NIA raids human rights activists in UP associated with Jayaprakash Narayan’s PUCL

The People's Union for Civil Liberties has demanded withdrawal of the case and has criticised the raids as "unconstitutional and anti-human rights actions”

Seema Azad, national secretary of the PUCL, whose home was raided by the NIA (photo: @seema.azad.33/Facebook)
Seema Azad, national secretary of the PUCL, whose home was raided by the NIA (photo: @seema.azad.33/Facebook)

NH Political Bureau

The National Investigative Agency (NIA), established to investigate terror cases, on September 5 began a series of raids on human rights activists in Uttar Pradesh who are associated with the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) — an organisation that was founded by the late veteran activist Jayaprakash Narayan.

The NIA raids were carried out in eight places across Prayagraj, Varanasi, Chandauli, Azamgarh and Deoria districts, the PUCL said.

However, FIR no. RC-01/2023/NIA/LKW, under which the raids were supposedly conducted, is not on the website of the NIA although it was apparently lodged in June 2023.

The PUCL said the home of its national secretary Seema Azad was raided in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), and the NIA has seized her laptop and some books. She was interrogated for hours by the NIA as well.

Apart from Azad, advocate Soni Azad, a member of the PUCL's Uttar Pradesh wing, and her husband Ritesh Rai were also interrogated by the NIA. The PUCL said that Manish Azad, another resident of Prayagraj, was also interrogated for several hours while his house was being raided.

The office of Akanksha, president of the Bhagat Singh Student's Morcha (BSM), was also raided in Varanasi, the PUCL said.

In Deoria, the home of activist Rajesh Azad, a prominent face of the Khiriya Bagh–Azamgarh farmers' movement, was raided.

Condemning the statewide raids on its office bearers and activists, the PUCL criticised them as being “unconstitutional and anti-human rights actions”. 'The witchhunt [against] human rights activists [must] be stopped immediately,' said the PUCL in a statement.

'The PUCL believes that this operation of the NIA is a serious attempt to stifle the voices of an active human rights and democracy defender, which is unacceptable and the PUCL strongly objects to this tyrannical act of the NIA agency,' the statement continued.

Demanding that the NIA withdraw its investigation against Seema Azad, the PUCL said it is activism on behalf of civil society that is being criminalised by being characterised as ‘Naxalism and Maoism’.

'This is a clear attempt to intimidate Indian citizens who want to raise democratic demands and (seek) accountability from public officials and the political executive. The PUCL reiterates its demand(s) of stopping this witchhunt, (of) immediate withdrawal of the FIR and (of) a halt to the investigation,' reads the statement issued by the PUCL. 

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Published: 06 Sep 2023, 8:18 AM