Hyderabad: The Munchingpot police in Visakhapatnam district and the Piduguralla police in Guntur district have filed two separate FIRs against prominent human rights activist V.S Krishna of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) and several other rights, literary, and Dalit organisations.

In the Munchingput FIR, Krishna, a member of the HRF's AP and Telangana coordination committee, has been accused of influencing the Vakapalli rape survivors to depose falsely against the policemen.

S. Jeevan Kumar and A. Chandrasekhar of the HRF coordination committee said it was an atrocious allegation. "The HRF along with many Adivasi and women's organisations were active participants since 2007 seeking justice for the 11 Vakapalli women who were raped by the special forces. It is because of the sheer resilience of the women of Vakapalli and the intervention of the High Court in 2012 and the Supreme Court in September 2017, that the trial is continuing in the SC, ST special court in Visakhapatnam," they added.

Thirteen accused police personnel are presently on trial. While two of the Vakapalli women died in the intervening years, the other nine came to Visakhapatnam and deposed in the court. "The HRF, along with several other organisations, provided them food and shelter. It is certainly not a crime to provide food and shelter to Adivasi women witnesses who have come from remote areas to depose in a criminal trial mandated by the law," said an HRF committee member.

Krishna added, "This is clearly an exercise in intimidation to stifle lawful dissent and protest. We have no hesitation in stating that the contents of the FIRs are a litany of lies."

The HRF also insisted that it is because of this solidarity and sustained rights activism that the police are now seeking to intimidate Krishna in what they believe is a clear case of vindictiveness.

Earlier this month on 2 November, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was invoked against three HRF functionaries - Telangana HRF vice-president Atram Bhujanga Rao, Adilabad district HRF president A. Suguna and HRF Komaram Bheem Asifabad district president Kanaka Venkatesh - in an FIR lodged at the Tadvai police station in Mulugu district, Telangana. All three are teachers in government schools. "It is a reflection of the times we live in that the police, in open abuse of the legitimate powers vested in them, can file FIRs stacked with outrageous and barefaced untruths," said Krishna.

They also assert that UAPA is a draconian legislation that mocks fundamental freedoms. "Such a law should have no place in a democracy. In the recent past, we have witnessed how the UAPA is being deployed in many states against those who speak up against rights violations, highlight the plight of vulnerable communities, and oppose undemocratic policies and excesses of the government," said an HRF committee member.

According to the HRF, the forum was formed in 1998 with the firm conviction that a broad-based and truly independent human rights movement is desirable and possible. "We believe that the essence of human rights is the notion of equality in human value and worth. HRF shall continue to work for the protection of constitutionally and internationally recognised rights of the people and for the right of the people to propose and strive for new rights not yet recognised in national or international law. We will continue to endeavour for the spreading of a human rights culture in society," said another HRF committee member.

The Human Right Forum, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana coordination committee, demands that the fabricated accusations against Krishna and other activists in the FIRs be immediately dropped.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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