Alleged woman Naxalite held in Raipur; PUCL says she is 'Adivasi activist and human rights defender'

Suneeta Potam (25) was held by a team of Bijapur police from Raipur, where she was living under an assumed name and identity.
Last Updated : 03 June 2024, 14:14 IST
Last Updated : 03 June 2024, 14:14 IST

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Raipur: A woman allegedly wanted in 12 Naxalite cases, including murder, was arrested from Raipur in Chhattisgarh on Monday, an official said, though People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) functionaries claimed she was a tribal activist who was fighting against police atrocities.

Suneeta Potam (25) was held by a team of Bijapur police from Raipur, where she was living under an assumed name and identity, Bastar Range Inspector General of Police Sundarraj P told PTI.

"She is a resident of Korcholi village under Gangaloor police station area in Bijapur and is a key operative of the Maoists' urban network and frontal organization. At least 12 warrants are pending against Potam in three different police stations in Bijapur for offences related to murder, attempt to murder, loot, provocative speeches and causing damage to government property," the IG said.

"The 12 cases comprise seven in Gangaloor police station, four in Mirtur police station and one in Bijapur police station. She was held on a tip off. A court here has remanded her in judicial custody," Sundarraj added.

However, in a statement, the Chhattisgarh unit of the PUCL demanded her immediate release claiming she was an 'Adivasi activist and human right defender' and 'an active member of PUCL Chhattisgarh and of national women's organization WSS (Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression) since 2015'.

Potam had gone to Raipur to complete her class X through Open School and was staying with colleagues of a women's collective to prepare for her entrance test when she was picked up, the PUCL statement claimed.

"In the most shocking way, the other two colleagues were pushed inside the room and bolted from outside before the Deputy Superintendent of Police took Potam in an unregistered vehicle without number plates threatening the landlady not to open the door. In less than half an hour, the DSP returned to flash the warrant against Potam, refusing to give a copy to her colleagues and PUCL member Shreya Khemani who reached the place after hearing the news," the statement alleged.

The alleged arrest was made in complete violation of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the D K Basu case, it said, adding no memo of arrest was prepared or attested by family, friends and neighbours.

As a human rights defender, Potam has been a thorn in the eyes of Bijapur police as she has been raising her voice against atrocities, especially on women, committed by them, the PUCL claimed.

In 2016, Potam had petitioned the Chhattisgarh High Court over alleged extra judicial killings of six person in Kadenar, Palnar, Korcholi and Andri villages of Bijapur district, it said.

"At the local level she has been leading ongoing protests against widening of roads piercing through several villages, cutting hundreds of fruit bearing trees without holding any gram sabha in complete violation of the PESA Act," the PUCL statement said.

It demanded an independent investigation and alleged false cases had been foisted on her.

Published 03 June 2024, 14:14 IST

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