The arrest of A. Murugan shows a dangerous pattern where civil rights activists can be implicated in connection to the clients they choose to defend, says rights body.
New Delhi: Decrying it as part of a ‘dangerous pattern’, the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) has condemned the arrest of a lawyer, A. Murugan of the Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties on terror charges. Murugan was arrested on January 8 at 4 am from his home by the Tamil Nadu Q branch police based on a search warrant issued by the district magistrate.
Murugan was arrested on the pretext of having arranged to shelter two Maoists who were arrested in Karur five months ago, according to the press release. He was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Sections 18(a), 18(b), 20 and 38 & IPC 120(b). According to the Hindu, the Q branch of the police had been snooping on Murugan ever since the arrest of two Maoists, Kala and Chandra.
Murugan had been a civil rights activist for more than ten years and has a reputation for defending political prisoners, including Maoists. The CDRO has alleged that Murugan was unfairly arrested for possessing the documents of the Karur court case, which given his role as an advocate, he was “bound to be in possession of”.
With Murugan’s case, the CDRO points out the danger of civil rights activists and lawyers being implicated for practising their profession and being arrested in connection to the clients they choose to defend. They said this arrest is a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to practice one’s profession and condemned the absence of restraints on the district magistrate’s warrant to safeguard Murugan’s profession.
The CDRO statement also highlights what it describes as the growing pattern of activists being arrested under draconian laws to silence dissent. Murugan remains in judicial custody.
The CDRO’s full statement is reproduced below.