Days after the Calcutta high court granted seven arrested Maoists, including Venkateshwar Reddy alias Telugu Dipak and Chhatradhar Mahato, the status of political prisoner, chief justice of the city sessions court has extended the same verdict to Maoist leaders arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
A petition was filed before the court by the nine accused, seeking the status of political prisoner. Although the NIA counsel in Kolkta opposed the pleas by the arrested Maoist leaders, the sessions court overruled their objection when the Maoist's counsel referred to the August 8 Calcutta high court judgment.
As per the rules, the status of political prisoner can be applied to anyone arrested or convicted for committing, attempting to commit or aiding and abetting political offences, whether or not the offences themselves are punishable by the Indian Penal Code, or any person believed to have been prosecuted out of political animosity.
The law also says that anyone who commits or allegedly commits an offence during a political or democratic movement with an exclusive political objective, free from personal greed or motive, is entitled to political prisoner status. An individual who is charged with waging war; conspiracy to wage war or sedition against the state is punishable under sections 121 to 130 of the IPC can also be a political prisoner.
Five Maoist leaders, including Sadanala Ramakrishna, who have been charge sheeted by the NIA, and four others who have no been charge sheeted yet, appealed before the court, seeking political prisoner status, after the August 8 case.
NIA top brass in Delhi refused to comment, since they have not seen the final report yet. "Only after going through the session court order, will we think of the next step," said an NIA officer.
The nine Maoist leaders were nabbed in the NIA case, which was registered following the seizure of a large cache of materials used to make rock launchers. The explosives were recovered from various parts of the country, including Kolkata.
During their investigations, the NIA found that the Maoists had taken the help of northeastern rebels. Maoist central committee member, Aloke, met the top brass of Manipur based People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Myanmar.
There was a trade of between the two groups, with the Maoists exchanging arms and ammunition for ammonium nitrate, which the PLA demanded. Investigations have also revealed that Sadanala Ramakrishna was trying to manufacture the rocket launchers with the aid of Maharashta based Bengali engineer, Ashim Kumar Haranath Bhattacharya.
The duo had ordered parts from various foundries in Kolkata, as well as from other parts of the country.