M.N. Ravunni, chairman of the State committee of the Porattam, has alleged that the police and security forces are preparing the ground for ‘stage-managed encounter killings’ in Kerala by creating a ‘Maoist scare.’
“Kerala’s Chief Minister and Home Minister have said that there is no Maoist threat to Kerala and even the Karnataka government has said there is no Maoist presence in Kerala’s forests,” Mr. Ravunni told The Hindu. “But, the Central intelligence, police, and paramilitary forces are trying to falsely establish that there are Maoists hiding in the forests, like in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, by planting stories in certain media outlets.”
These forces wanted to extend their so-called ‘anti-terrorist, anti-Maoist attacks’ to Kerala, Mr. Ravunni alleged. “In the near future, they will kill some innocent individuals in false encounters to ‘prove’ their false contention.”
He said that four Porattam activists and an artist were now charged with provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for just holding posters and putting up wall posters. The UAPA, he said, was the most draconian law enacted by the Indian government. It was ‘more draconian than the Rowlett Act’ enforced by the British colonial rulers. “The five could be sent to jail for ten years each for simply holding or putting up the posters,” he said.
The posters tried to express their protest against the police who had cancelled the permission for a February 18 public meeting at Mananthavady in Wayanad district to observe the death anniversary of the Naxalite leader Varghese who was shot dead by the police in 1970.
“Expressing protests and differences of opinion in a peaceful way is the essence of democracy and freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution. How can the police brand a simple act of protest by putting up wall posters as terrorist activity?”
“In a shrewd move to prevent the arrested from getting out on bail, the police have registered cases for the same offence at three different police stations so that even if one magistrate lets them out for a case registered at one station, they could still be held behind bars for the cases in the other two stations,” Mr. Ravunni rued.
The four Porattam activists arrested are Vinod, Shanto Lal, Usman, and C.K. Gopalan. The young artist Swapnesh Babu had nothing to do with the Porattam, Mr. Ravunni said. Swapnesh Babu, who had a few weeks before been arrested for protesting against the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, had gone on a fortnight-long fast in the Viyyur jail.
Mr. Ravunni wanted the Chief Minister to clearly state his government’s stand on the so-called anti-terrorism actions in the State. Though the anti-Maoist combing had been frozen, camps of the security forces were still active in the forests, he alleged. He regretted that certain media outlets were being misled by the security forces into becoming ‘collaborators’ in their false anti-terrorism hunt. By creating a ‘terrorist scare,’ people’s silence was being bought too.