Three people Rupesh Kumar Singh, 33, a social activist and independent journalist; Mithilesh Kumar Singh, 45, social activist and lawyer at Ramgarh Civil Court; Singh’s driver Mohammad Kalam, 42, were arrested allegedly with explosives from Dobhi More at NH-2, near Sherghati, around 30 km from Gaya, according to a Prabhat Khabar, a local newspaper, reported on June 7.
The same day, on which the details of their arrests published in the local newspaper, a unit of Bihar Police raided the house of Rupesh in Ramgarh and Bokaro and seized his laptop, mobile phone and “Naxal literature,” reported Newslaundry. However, the writing which was being referred to as “Naxal literature”, was nothing but a few articles written by Rupesh in Laal Mati, a magazine in which he is an editor.
While searching the house, the police were not able to provide any warrant when asked for the same. “I kept asking them for a copy of the search warrant, but they didn’t produce any. They took away his laptop, a few books on Lenin, Marx and other ideological stuff,” said Ipsa Shatakshi, Rupesh’s wife to Newslaundry.
On May 4, all three persons went missing while they were on their way to Mithilesh’s ancestral village in Aurangabad from Ramgarh. The same day, Mithilesh’s family lodged a missing person complaint at the Ramgarh police station. However, the report was filed the next day.
Two days later, around 1 pm on June 6, Mithilesh called Rupesh’s brother to inform that Rupesh was fine and they were on their way back to Ramgarh. But the call got disconnected before Rupesh’s brother could further ask anything. “We immediately rushed to Ramgarh police station and informed them about the call. At the same time, we were also concerned about not bothering police too much, but just wanted to keep them updated,” said Ipsa.
The same day, on June 6, Gaya Assistant Superintendent of Police (Naxal) Navin Kumar Singh and Deputy Superintendent of Police Ravish Kumar held a joint press conference with three accused (masked faces) in the background.
“We were tipped off that an explosive-laden four-wheeler was heading towards Chhakarbandha in Dumaria. Subsequently, we beefed up the security along NH-2 and started checking the vehicles approaching Chhakarbandha,” said Ravish.
The police officials stated that the accused were carrying the explosives. They further said that Rupesh primarily supplies explosives to Maoists. The accused have been charged under Sections 414 and 120B of the India Penal Code, along with other sections under the Explosive Substances Act.
Ipsa, rubbishing all the charges levelled against Rupesh, told Newslaundry, “Rupesh always used to say that when you stand for the causes of poor and the marginalised, the establishment will try to crush you. That’s exactly what happened today. He has been arrested for working on Dalit and tribal issues. There is not an iota of doubt that the police is trying to implicate him in a false case.”
At the moment the accusations are one-sided, as local journalists were not allowed to talk to the accused and had to rely on information provided by government officials. “We requested police officials to let us talk to the accused, but they never agree,” a local journalist said, on condition of anonymity.