The recent WikiLeaks revelations that Essar Group was paying ''protection money'' to Maoists in Chhattisgarh has made the police swing into action and arrest two people for involvement in money transfer. However, human rights bodies have termed the arrest of one of the two arrested as illegal and said he was framed in the case.
"The charges against Essar are of extremely serious nature. For long, police had inputs that money was regularly going to Maoists. Now we have made some breakthrough with arrest of two people," a police officer said.
The duo, local contractor B.K. Lala and journalist-activist Lingaram Kodopi, was arrested Friday in a well-tracked operation. Police say Lala withdrew Rs.15 lakh from his State Bank of India account from Kirandul in Dantewada and was set to hand over the money on behalf of Essar at the Palanar weekly market to Maoists.
Police say Essar has business operations in Dantewada."Lala admitted to be carrying money on behalf of Essar while Kodopi was tipped to receive the money on behalf of Maoists," Dantewada Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg told IANS.
Essar officials refused to comment on the issue when contacted by IANS.Police say the duo was booked under under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides clauses of a stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, which rights activists have termed a "draconian law", framed to tackle Maoist sympathizers.
Human rights organisations claim that Chhattisgarh Police has been deliberately trying to frame Kodopi, a young tribal activist, for a long time. The People's Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi (PUDR) has strongly condemned the arrest of Kodopi and said he was picked up from his village Sameli in Dantewada.
"Kodopi was earlier also picked up by the police from his village in September 2009 and kept in illegal detention for 40 days. They tortured and forced him to become an SPO. A habeas corpus petition was filed by his brother in the high court after which he was released," a PUDR statement said.