ANDHRA PRADESH

Govt. giving free hand to police, says MSR

HYDERABAD March 29. The State Government came under fire from Congress leaders and civil liberties activists at a Youth Congress-sponsored open discussion on "State violence and violation of human rights'' here on Friday.

The APCC president, M. Satyanarayana Rao, accused the TDP Government of giving a free hand to the police, which led to a `police raj' in the State. He condemned the statement of the Director General of Police, P. Ramulu, to the effect that POTO would be used against any person sympathetic to the naxalite cause.

``I am afraid POTO will be used against me too as I often tend to analyse the factors sustaining the naxalite movement in the State. It is atrocious to use the draconian laws against the villagers who might serve food to naxalites in a given situation," Mr. Rao pointed out.

The PCC-I president called upon his party workers to resist the use of POTO in the State. The Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, highlighted the party's stand very clearly when she said the act was in the hands of communalists, he said.

Mr. Rao favoured a dialogue with the People's War Group but regretted that incidents like the recent encouter in Warangal and the statements of the police officers were vitiating the atmosphere for talks. The police was deliberately trying to derail the exercise towards a dialogue, he charged.

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Ranganath Misra, who was the guest speaker, called for greater awareness among people on human rights.

Justice Ranganath Misra opposed the deployment of the army to control civil strife as it would lead to problems like in Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat. The local police should be enabled to handle the situation. The voter was the master as he would elect his ruler. But the ruler, after the election, was forgetting the voter. This led to strife in society, he said.

The former Home Secretary, V.P.B. Nair, denounced what he called the unlawful role of the police officials in the State, who are prone to dispose of the cases on the roads. About 40 to 50 persons were shot dead by the police on the streets in what was fashioned as "instance justice'' in the last four to five years. The rule of law was the biggest casualty in the State. He said he would move the High Court seeking a probe into these incidents. The CLP leader, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who could not attend the meeting, sent a message to the workshop in which he condemned the use of the instumentalities of the State by the present Government for perpetration of violence on innocent people and political rivals.

The A.P. Youth Congress president, T. Venkat Rao, brought out a `black paper' listing the instances of how democratic protests are being curbed in the State. The A.P. Civil Liberties Committee president, Ratnamala, listed the instances of police excesses in the State, especially in the Telangana region.

A.P. Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ) president, D. Amar, who presided, referred to the threat of cancellation of the accreditation facility of a journalist by the Adilabad district Collector for reporting the diversion of the tribal development funds by the ITDA officer for the alleged construction of a posh house and swimming pool for himself. He said the union represented the matter to the Chief Minister seeking action against the erring official.

The AICC secretary, V. Hanumantha Rao, expressed the apprehension that POTO would be used by the A.P. Government against the political rivals and asked the Congressmen to be prepared for a struggle. He said the draconian law would be used against the anti-power tariff agitators and the DGP's warning was clear. A.P. Mahila Congress president, J. Geeta Reddy, said that crime against women had risen alarmingly in recent times and the Government's response was inadequate. The literacy rate among women was as low as 32.5 per cent, against 54.5 per cent among men. Sexual harassment was on the rise. Even in the political sphere, the discrimination against women was blatant.

P.Lakshmaiah, Congress-I MLA, PCC vice-president Shabbir Ali, PCC spokespersons K. Kesava Rao and U. Arun Kumar spoke.

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