After arrested in 2007 and was given bail in 2011, rights activist and former journalist Prashant Rahi and three others who were accused of being Maoists, were acquitted by court in Uttarakhand on Friday.
The prosecution was unable to prove the crime of the accused persons beyond a reasonable doubt, Judge Prem Singh Khimal of the Udham Singh Nagar Sessions Court observed.
In 2007, Rahi along with Gopal Datt Bhatt, Khim Singh Bora and Devendra Chamyal were booked under draconian UAPA after they were accused of being members of a “terrorist gang.”
While acquitting the four, the judge observed that the police had failed to verify the witnesses and had not secured the Union government’s permission to prosecute the accused persons under UAPA.
Rahi’s daughter Shikha, a Mumbai based filmmaker told Rediff that she was “overjoyed” with the verdict.
“I was angry that the State had deprived me of relishing the moment we were all waiting for through these last 14 years,” Shikha told Rediff.com.
“I was 24 when my father was arrested,” she recalled, “and my father was only 48. He is now 62 and has to spend his years in an anda cell with no facilities, let out only every alternate day,” she said.
According to Rediff report, Rahi had been tortured badly by the Uttarakhand police. In jail, he was spared manual labour because he was seen as an “atom bomb” who could not be allowed to mingle with others, and was hence put in solitary confinement.
After released on bail in 2011 in the UAPA case, Rahi was also arrested by Maharashtra Police in 2013 under the same anti-terror law in a different case. A forensic analysis of the data on Rahi’s laptop, pen drives and CDs revealed links to Maoists, Maharashtra police had claimed.
Rahi is still in jail in Maharashtra after conviction for a Gadchiroli case. Rahi is on a stretcher now because he is suffering from sciatica. Rahi and professor G.N. Saibaba, who was teaching at a Delhi University college at the time, and others were convicted in the case in 2017. The final appeal against the conviction is pending.