People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) will explore legal options in the wake of the life term awarded to its Uttar Pradesh unit organising secretary Seema Azad by an Allahabad court.
Ms. Azad, a post graduate in psychology from Allahabad University, and her husband Vishwavijay Kamal were arrested in Allahabad on February 6, 2010 on charges of being members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and involved in unlawful activities. They were convicted and awarded life term on June 8 after about two-and-a-half years in jail.
General secretary of the PUCL Vandana Misra said that an appeal would be made in a higher court. “We have the highest regard for the judiciary and are confident that justice will be delivered,” she said.
Ms. Azad and Vishwavijay were supposedly arrested at the Allahabad railway station on February 6, 2010 when they returned after attending a book fair in New Delhi. This was the version given to reporters by senior police officers in Lucknow two days after the arrests were made. (According to the police, Ms. Azad was among the 11 alleged Maoists arrested from Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Allahabad).
However, the First Information Report related to Seema Azad and her husband's arrest (a copy of which is with The-Hindu) lodged at the Khuldabad police station states that they were arrested by the Allahabad field unit of the Special Task Force from Khuldabad in Lukerganj area of Allahabad at 9.30 pm on February 6, 2010.
The police claimed to have found the following material from their cloth bags: Detailed programme of Krantikari Jan Committee from 1 to 26 (month not mentioned); a pamphlet carrying the message of CPI (Maoist); a ‘PLGA' pamphlet related to the arrest of Kobad Gandhi; agenda of ninth NPB meeting on 30 and 31 January; pamphlet calling for the fifth anniversary of the party; pamphlet pertaining to the arrest of central committee members and five activists of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh; pamphlet related to the oath on PLGA day; and about Rs. 50,000 in cash.
While the PUCL alleged that Seema Azad was framed by the police for raising her voice against the alleged fake encounters and atrocities on mining workers, the police claimed that they were planning to expand base in North Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The couple were sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs. 20,000 for waging a war against the State and criminal conspiracy. They were charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC. They were also charged under the relevant provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature.