“He has never visited any part of Andhra Pradesh during his lifetime, yet a team of the National Investigation Agency, picked up my son Mandeep Singh from Chandigarh on March 9, produced him before a court in Adilabad district on March 16 and booked him under the provisions of the Andhra Public Security Act [APSA],” lamented his 70-year-old father, Balbir Singh, a practicing lawyer in Yamunanagar town of Haryana.
Mr. Singh was talking to The Hindu at the Sector 17 shopping plaza, where a small group of activists from a discussion forum, Lokayat, and the Haryana unit of the People’s Union for Civil Rights (PUCR), organised a protest against the arrest of Mandeep Singh and Pradeep Singh.
Giving an account of the incident, Pradeep Singh, who is a student of Punjab Engineering College here, said that on March 9, he was riding his motorcycle with Mandeep on the pillion when at the Sector 23-24 traffic lights’ point, an occupant in an SUV that stopped on their side, pointed a gun at them and asked them to sit in the vehicle.
Pradeep, whose family originally belongs to Fazilka town of Punjab, but is now settled in Rajasthan, works with Students for Society (SFS), which he claims is not politically aligned. He said that they were kept in a National Investigation Agency (NIA) office in Noida and subjected to sustained questioning and mentally tortured through threats of being killed in a staged encounter, denial of rest and food.
While they were proceeding toward a destination in Andhra Pradesh, the arrested persons raised an alarm in Mathura town where they managed to convince their captors to stop the vehicle. The NIA team, along with the arrested youths, were detained and later released by the Mathura police. On the way to Andhra Pradesh, the NIA officials stopped the vehicle and threatened to shoot the youth on at least three occasions. However, they let off Pradeep at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on March 18, while Mandeep was taken to Macherial police station of Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh, where a case under Sector 8 of APSA was slapped against him.
Pradeep said that he shared with the NIA all he knew about Mandeep, whom he first came in contact with about one and half years’ ago. As was common for all members of his SFS organisation, he had helped Mandeep get medical treatment for some pain in his knee. Subsequently, Mandeep developed a cardiac complication, for which he was under treatment at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI).
While PUCR activists claimed that Mandeep was pursuing a degree in law, his father said that Mandeep was jobless after having completed a degree in hotel management. Mr. Singh accepted that as a student, his son was associated with Jagrook Chhatar Morcha (JCM), which had sympathies with extreme Left organisations. He said that the organisation was neither banned, nor was his son involved in any illegal act. He demanded relief for his son and claimed that as JCM was not banned, Mandeep could not be booked under Section 8 of the APSA.
However, Mr. Singh said that the Deputy Superintendent of the Jail at Adilabad had informed him about the bail that had been granted to Mandeep, who was required to furnish two surety bonds and mandated to present himself at the police station, for one day every month. “How is he expected to travel from Yamunanagar to Adilabad every month?” he asked.
Convenor of Lokayat, Arti, said the NIA action amounted to contravention of the federal structure of the constitution, as both Mandeep and Pradeep were picked up without following procedures and officially involving local authorities. She said that the NIA had also violated Supreme Court guidelines on the issue.
Ms. Arti said that the civil liberties’ groups would pursue the matter till the “false” case against Mandeep was withdrawn and action initiated against the NIA officials involved in the gross violation.