The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) will stage a dharna in Lucknow and Allahabad on Saturday (February 13) to demand the release of human rights activist and organising secretary of PUCL, Seema Azad.

Ms. Azad and her husband, Vishwa Vijay were picked up by the Uttar Pradesh police from the Allahabad railway station on February 6 when they returned from New Delhi. They have been accused by the police as members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). On February 5, Asha, a member of Inquilabi Chhatra Morcha was arrested in Gorakhpur on similar charges.

The PUCL has alleged that Ms. Azad has been framed by the police for raising her voice against the alleged fake encounters and atrocities on mining workers. In a press release, the PUCL said the police action amounted to stifling the voices of democratic protest.

Ms. Azad, who is the editor of a monthly magazine, Dastak, had raised her voice against the alleged fake encounter killing of one Kamlesh Chaudhary in Sonebhadra district on charges that he was a Naxalite. She had also raised her voice against the atrocities committed on mining workers in Allahabad and Kaushambi districts. The PUCL has demanded that all cases against her should be withdrawn.

NHRC urged

The PUCL has also petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and has urged it to initiate action.

The dharna in Lucknow would be staged at the Vidhan Bhawan building.

Meanwhile, the Journalist Union for Civil Society (JUCS) in a press release said that a signature campaign would be launched to demand their release.

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