An Unrepentant Police Force
We strongly condemn the ongoing attempts by the police of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, to continuously harass U G Srinivasulu, an Adoni-based advocate and the Human Rights Forum (HRF) secretary for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana States (AP&TS).
Over the past three years, the police have filed several criminal charges against Srinivasulu, and several other activists of Adoni town, all of which are patently false. He has consistently opposed the arbitrary and mala fide use of the law by the police, and has critiqued their unlawful methods. He has also spoken out and undertaken campaigns against various industries based in Kurnool district that are endangering people’s health and the environment. He has opposed the fabricated charges against marginalised sections and has sought the proper and effective implementation of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
However, he has been met with hostility by the police, who have taken recourse to plain abuse of the law and foisting false charges. When the HRF along with several organisations sought the enforcement of environmental regulations on industries emitting toxins into the air, ground, water—causing immense injury to the people near Adoni—instead of invoking the law and penalising those industries, false charges, including those under the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, were levelled against HRF functionaries. When the HRF questioned the indiscriminate registration of a huge number (460 in all) of rowdy sheets against the people in Adoni—and pointed out the harassment and humiliation this would entail—instead of taking corrective measures, the police’s retaliation was to book a rowdy sheet on Srinivasulu himself! They even went to the extent of fabricating a case under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (creating enmity between communities) against him. This is perhaps the first time that a human rights activist has been charged under this section in AP&TS.
We wish to remind the government that dissent and the various freedoms conferred onto us by the Constitution, are intrinsic to our democracy. Crude and mala fide attempts to curb these rights, and silence dissent, will not go unopposed. We will not sit by and watch as the government seeks to dismantle democratic norms, and tries to stymie open, critical and diverse debate.
The HRF will continue to hold the government and its various instruments accountable to the law and to democratic procedures. We shall endure in our work towards safeguarding and spreading human rights, as a culture in our society.
The unfortunate reality today is that the police are only as lawful or lawless as the political government wishes them to be. We, therefore, call upon the AP government to rein in this arbitrary exercise of power by the Kurnool police. We demand that all charges against Srinivasulu be dropped and the cases foisted upon him be withdrawn.
V S Krishna
Human Rights Forum General Secretary, AP&TS
S Jeevan Kumar
Human Rights Forum President, AP&TS
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