January 23, 2017
Advocates who are defending political prisoners have to brunt of the police.
The Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), a Mumbai-based organisation, has raised its voice against frequent attacks against human rights lawyers who are allegedly openly targeted by the government and police for defending tribals in Chattisgarh. IAPL has prepared a fact-finding report on such assault cases, which will be released during a protest demonstration on Tuesday. According to the report, advocates who are defending “political prisoners” as well as Chhattisgarh locals, have to bear the brunt of the police, which includes false cases against the aforementioned.
The report reads that such an environment is created in the Bastar district of Chattisgarh that advocates are persistently avoided by their community and their colleagues. “These lawyers, some of whom are members of IAPL, are hounded because they defend alleged Maoists, or because their family members have been arrested for Naxal activities, or because they raise before the courts issues regarding police atrocities. There is a deliberate design by the administration to terrorise and/or threaten advocates into withdrawing their appearance for those accused of Naxal activities. Lawyers are identified with their client’s causes when discharging their professional duties,” reads the report.
The report elaborates on three advocates who were harassed by the local police. Advocate Satendrakumar Chaubey who has been practising since 1996, and who was appearing for the villagers accused of attacking Bargaon police station in Ambikapur, was branded as a Naxalite. The police had raided his house, but they allegedly failed to find anything incriminating. He was arrested in 1999 from Jharkhand and was behind bars for three months.