July 11, 2017
Six months after they were arrested by Chhattisgarh police, seven members of the Telangana Democratic Forum returned home in the first week of July. Charged under the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act for allegedly carrying demonetised notes worth Rs one lakh to aid the Maoists, their bail application was rejected three times. Finally, they secured bail on June 30 from the High Court in Bilaspur.
In a conversation on the sidelines of an event organised by the Forum in Hyderabad on July 3, Balla Ravindranath, one of the seven members, alleged both Telangana Police and Chhattisgarh police had worked in tandem to fabricate a case against them. He also recounted the harrowing experience of imprisonment in Sukma jail.
An unexpected arrest
The Telangana Democratic Forum came together in 2015 as a collective of 376 independent organizations, political parties, intellectuals and retired judges to protest against human rights violations in Telangana and neighbouring states.
On the night of December 24, seven activists of the Forum left Hyderabad to travel to Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur and Sukma districts, which share borders with Telangana’s Khamman district. The team included lawyers Balla Ravindranath and Chikkudu Prabhakar, journalist Rajendra Prasad, activists Durga Prasad, Duddu Prabhakar, Ramananda Lakshmi, and student activist Mohammad Nazeer.