Couple acquitted of naxal-link charge

The frequent visits of the police to her house at Bhagavathikere village in Shimoga district disturb Horale Saroja, a member of Adivasi Horata Samiti who was released from prison following her acquittal of the charge that she had links with naxals.

“I was forced to languish behind bars for more than four years for opposing the eviction of tribal people from the Kudremukh National Park. It is unfortunate that the police could not tolerate the protests the tribal people had launched in a democratic manner for their rights. My husband and I were greatly disturbed owing to the series of legal battles we had to launch to secure release. My son was also subjected to suffering,” Ms. Saroja told The Hindu.

“We are fed up with this. We are eager to lead a normal life and concentrate on the education of our son. It is unfortunate that the police have continued to trouble us,” she said.

“After the court acquitted her of the charge, my wife was released on September 25. After her release, the police have visited our house thrice. They come in the pretext of consoling us but speak in an intimidating tone. The police visits have created a sense of apprehension in my son that we will be put behind bars again,” says Suresh Naik, her husband.

The couple were arrested on the charge of having links with Maoists on May 11, 2009.

“My son, Sumanth, who, then, was two years old, remained with me in prison. The police registered 22 cases against me. Similar cases were booked against my husband. The court acquitted my husband and ordered his release in 2011. My husband took away my son with him after his release,” she said.

“While in prison, my son missed his father. He missed me after going home. Our family life was disturbed,” she says.

Naik has four acres of agriculture land in which he grows maize. They have enrolled Sumanth in a private school in nearby Holehonnur town.

Saroja hails from an agrarian family in Horale village near Kudremukh. Both had actively participated in the struggles launched by the Adivasi Horata Samiti against the displacement of tribal people. “The samiti had organised non-violent and peaceful struggle against the displacement. Both of us had participated in awareness campaigns in villages in the Kudremukh region. Common interests and tastes brought us together and we got married. After the marriage, I started a textiles business in a village near Tumkur,” Naik said.

“There were procedural lapses in the arrest. After the arrest, the police took 16 days to produce us before court,” he said.

Naik has written a novel, “Malenadina Moggugalu”, on the struggle against eviction of tribal people. Saroja also wrote poems during her stay in the prison.

“The series of legal battles have left us in deep financial crises. My novel and anthology of poems penned by my wife will be released after our financial condition improves,” he said.

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