Indian police have re-arrested Chandra Prakash Gajurel (comrade Gaurav), a leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), on new charges on the day he was scheduled to be freed after serving a three-year prison sentence.
As he was about to leave India in August 2003, the CPN(M) Political Bureau member was arrested at the airport in Chennai, in the state of Madras, for a passport violation, usually considered a minor offence. The Indian government’s efforts to deport him to Nepal were blocked after a legal battle, and he remained in jail without charges. Then on 17 September 2005, the courts ordered that he be held for a year under the National Security Act, and in May 2006, he was sentenced to serve three years imprisonment, starting from the day of his arrest, for the original passport violation. Taking into account the jail terms he had already served, Comrade Gaurav was scheduled for release 18 September.
A crowd of at least a hundred supporters was on hand at 7 am outside the Chennai prison to greet him that day. But before he could even leave the prison grounds, he was re-arrested at the request of the police in the state of West Bengal, where charges of waging war against India have been filed against him. According to the Indian daily The Hindu, concretely this means that he is being accused of taking part in secret meetings with a view to disturbing law and order.
In a letter, comrade Gaurav’s lawyer Alagarsamy Rahul described the scene outside the prison that morning. As the crowd, which included 15 lawyers, was waiting for his release, a convoy of six vehicles which contained heavily armed police numbering nearly 50 took Gajurel to an unknown location. Neither Gajurel nor his lawyers were informed of the details of the arrest, if any, made inside the prison premises. The entire crowd blocked the road peacefully, obstructing the passage of the police vehicles, and claimed that they had a right to be informed of the details of the arrest. Mr Gajurel was sitting in the police van without being allowed to talk to his lawyers.
Thereafter, the crowd was informed that Mr Gajurel was being taken to Chennai Magistrate Court. The entire crowd followed the police vehicles in two-wheelers and three-wheelers, etc. Mr Gajurel was taken to a police station situated at Egmore. With great difficulty, three of the lawyers were permitted to meet him.
The lawyer’s letter goes on to describe the circumstances of the arrest and the arguments before the Magistrate Court that day, where comrade Gaurav’s defenders argued that his detention was illegal from a number of different angles. In particular, when the police claimed in court that they had arrested comrade Gaurav outside the prison, a potentially decisive issue, 11 lawyers filed affidavits swearing that this was a lie. More than 300 people assembled before the prison while these court proceedings were taking place. Ignoring police orders to disperse, they entered the courtroom, where they remained for several hours.
Finally, in response to a motion brought before it, the Madras High Court intervened that same afternoon, ordering that comrade Gaurav not be removed to West Bengal until further hearings were held. He was denied bail and sent back to Chennai prison. However, according to reports, in late September hearings the Madras High Court ruled that the West Bengal police should be allowed to take comrade Gaurav to that state to face the new charges.
The CPN(M) says that although India released 11 imprisoned Nepali Maoists in August, it is still holding more than 130 CPN(M) leaders and cadres, including the senior comrade Kiran (Mohan Baidha).
The World People’s Resistance Movement (www.wprm.org) calls this situation another outrageous example of the on-going efforts by the Indian authorities to use comrade Gaurav and Kiran, as well as the other Nepali political prisoners being held in India jails, as bargaining chips in their efforts to control political developments and the people’s struggle in Nepal.