National

Civil rights activist Kannabiran passes away

Civil rights activist and prominent lawyer K.G. Kannabiran. File photo  

Eminent civil rights activist and prominent lawyer K.G. Kannabiran (81) passed away in Hyderabad after a brief illness on Thursday evening.

He is survived by wife Vasanta, two daughters and a son. The last rites were performed later in the evening in the presence of family members as per his wish.

Born in 1929, Mr. Kannabiran obtained master's degree in Economics and a degree in law from the Madras University before shifting to Hyderabad to set up legal practice in 1961. Since the late 1960s, he began to defend political dissenters that eventually marked the beginning of his over three-decade-long civil liberties and human rights work.

He was the president of Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee between 1978 and 1994 and went on to become the national president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

With Leftist leanings, he advocated a dialogue between the government and the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – People's War — later known as CPI (Maoist).

Mr. Kannabiran was always at hand to negotiate during deadlock between the State and the extremist organisation. He played a key role in the release of seven IAS officers and others held hostage by the People's War extremists in East Godavari district in December 1987.

The Andhra Pradesh government sought his help when P. Sudhir Kumar, Congress MLA and son of former Union Minister P. Shiv Shanker, was kidnapped by Naxalites from Hyderabad in 1991. Again in January 1993, it was the help rendered by Mr. Kannabiran that ensured the return of another Congress MLA P. Balaraju, IAS officer D. Srinivasulu and six others, after they were taken hostage by Naxalites.

He was a member of Concerned Citizen's Tribunal that inquired into the Gujarat carnage. Earlier, he was appointed as senior counsel by the CBI in the prosecution of the accused in the Shankar Guha Niyogi murder case in Madhya Pradesh.

During the Emergency, he defended numerous political detainees and appeared in four major conspiracy cases — three of them in Andhra Pradesh — that had been filed to suppress political dissent.

In 1971, he filed a writ petition successfully challenging the Andhra Pradesh Preventive Detention Act, 1970, under which writers, poets and intellectuals had been arrested.

He was a lover of classical Indian music. He authored a book ‘The wages of impunity: power, justice and human rights'. Several political parties and people's organisation condoled his untimely death. Among them were Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu, Lok Satta Party chief N. Jayaprakash Narayan and CPI (M) State committee secretary B. V. Raghavulu.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 2:03:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Civil-rights-activist-Kannabiran-passes-away/article12717879.ece

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