Chhatisgarh Cops Face Defamation for Frame-Up

Effort to implicate Lingamram Kodopi as the "mastermind" of July 6 Maoist attack in Bastar and replacement of slain Maoist Azad prove counter-productive

Chhatisgarh Cops Face Defamation for Frame-Up
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
The Indian Express reported yesterday that the mastermind behind the July 6 Maoist attack on Congress leader Avdesh Singh Gautam’s house and the Kuakonda Police Station in Bastar had undergone militant training in Gujarat and New Delhi, and is currently doing a media-related course in the capital.

The newspaper went on to add that as per an unsigned press release, sent by the Dantewada police to newspaper offices, the alleged mastermind, Lingamram Kodopi, had links with NGO Vanvasi Chetna Ashram of Himanshu Kumar, and was in touch with activists in Delhi such as Arundhati Roy, Nandini Sunder and Medha Patkar.

The paper reported the police as claiming that after the killing of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, Kodopi had been given the charge of Chhattisgarh. The police release also said he had gone abroad “several times” for training.

On their part, all the accused have reacted with utter shock and horror.

Lingamram Kodopi, the accused, is a young tribal resident of Sameli village in Dantewada district, who is enrolled for a PG diploma in multimedia at the International Media Institute of India, Noida. At a press conference on Monday, a tearful Kodopi said he came to Delhi last year “to get away from the persecution and violence in my home district."

Human rights activist and lawyer, Colin Gonsalves, who accompanied the various accused to the press conference said: “We have brought Lingaram here to this press conference today to make it clear to the police, the media and the government that he is not running away. We want the Home Minister to know that if they want to pick him up, then please do so. They will not find any evidence against Lingaram.”

Other reactions:
 
Medha Patkar: “I remember having come across one Lingaram or Linga, a youth from Chhattisgarh, a few months back. I think he used to work with Himanshu Kumar’s organisation... The person I know could not be the mastermind of a violent activity. He appeared a common Chhattisgarhi villager. Appeared harassed by the violence and was against violence”

Professor Nandini Sundar: “The CG (Chhattisgarh) Police has obviously decided to defame everyone who has exposed its illegal activities. Their attack on civil society actors and journalists like Javed Iqbal is completely outrageous and a clear sign of their Fascism."

“I met Linga when he moved to Delhi after being tortured and forced to become an SPO by the Dantewada police. It is preposterous to suggest he is the mastermind of the attack on Avdesh Gautam. By linking him, and, in turn, all of us, to the attack, the Chhattisgarh police appear to have completely lost their minds." 

Himanshu Kumar: “Our NGO runs a legal aid centre and Lingaram approached us for legal assistance after he and his family were harassed by police. The Chhattisgarh Police is playing a very cheap game. We will fight it out.”

Arundhati Roy: “The only Lingaram I know is a young boy staying at Delhi Forum [an NGO]. He has spoken at several public forums and told the story of being kidnapped by the Salwa Judum. For the police to say he was a replacement for Azad and is in charge of Chhattisgarh operations is delusional.”

Earlier, yesterday, Roy had summed up the story to rediff.com in a text message: "They [the Chhatisgarh cops] hope to go on lying till their lies are believed. Old trick. Goebbels started it. The police sound as though they are high on pot. But all this is part of a campaign."

Professor Nandini Sundar happens to be abroad right now, but her husband Siddharth Varadarajan, the bureau chief of The Hindu in Delhi, summed it up succinctly in a tweet today: "Given failure to show results, Chhattisgarh's Keystone Kops pull some unlikely rabbits out of still stranger hats"

In an e-mail to various media outlets, earlier, he provided context to what is widely being seen as a preposterous charge: "According to the police, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the attack is an Adivasi guy called Lingaram, who successfully won a case in a Bilaspur court against the CG cops last year when they tried to forcibly recruit him as an SPO. After that he came to Delhi and is doing some kind of media course in Noida. If the police really believe he’s the mastermind, it is astonishing that they would arrest others first and not move to apprehend him, but instead announce his guilt in a press statement, giving him time to flee!”

It is a feeling that seems to be widely shared by most who find it more than strange that despite naming Lingaram as the "mastermind" behind the carnage, the Chhatisgarh police have so far made no attempt to arrest him.

The Hindu quoted Dr. Ajai Sahni, Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management, as saying, “Frankly, they [the police] have destroyed the case before they made it, if they did ever have a case... If Lingaram wanted, he could have gone underground by now. They have been compromised operationally and legally.”

As  Varadarajan added, “In any case, to go from there to trying to insinuate that Nandini, Medha, Arundhati Roy and Himanshu Kumar are somehow connected to the Maoist attack is sheer defamation." Professor Sundar has also conveyed her intention to take stern action against the police for what she described as an act of gross defamation.  
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