Give Maoists political prisoner status, says rights group
Kolkata, March 22 : A rights group Friday demanded that the West Bengal government withdraw its petition to the Supreme Court challenging a Calcutta High Court judgment awarding arrested Maoists the status of "political prisoners".
"The state government must immediately withdraw the petition challenging the Calcutta High Court's decision. Political prisoner status is a democratic right and the government cannot take away this right," said Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) secretary Dhiral Sengupta.
The Calcutta High Court August 2012 had granted political prisoner status to seven Maoists including Gaur Narayan Chakraborty and tribal leader Chhatradhar Mahato, spokesperson of Maoist backed Peoples' Committee Against Police Atrocities.
The state government subsequently filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the order. The apex court stayed the order.
The APDR also urged the Mamata Banerjee government in the state not to amend the law granting political prisoner status.
"The government should desist from lowering the dignity of the state assembly by trying to amend a law and deny a basic democratic right of people who fight for political justice. This government is behaving like the British rulers," added Sengupta.
Following the Calcutta High Court order, the union home ministry had written to the state government seeking an amendment in the West Bengal Correctional Services Act, 1992, to prevent Maoists and other militants from getting status of political prisoners.