Boycotting LS bypolls can’t be treated as Naxal activity: Mangaluru Court

‘Letters were written as leaders hadn’t fulfilled demands’

Letters written by journalist Vittal Malekudiya about him and other tribal people from Kutloor village of Belthangady taluk in Kudremukh National Park area to boycott Lok Sabha bypolls cannot be construed as “Maoist activity”, said a city session court in its judgment on Thursday, while acquitting him and his father Lingappa.

In the 23-page judgment, third Additional District and Sessions judge B.B. Jakati said Mr. Malekudiya, being a student of journalism, wrote the letters because “leaders had not fulfilled long-standing demands of the tribals of Kuthloor village”.

The letter did not suggest that Mr. Malekudiya and his father were engaged in Naxal activities or were concealing or harbouring absconding Maoist activists Vikram Gowda, Pradeepa, John, Prabha, and Sundari, the judge said.

In March 2012, a team of Anti-Naxal Force personnel raided the house of Mr. Malekudiya, a first-year PG journalism student, in Kuthloor, and his hostel in Mangaluru, to seize, among other things, letters, household articles, a pair of binoculars, a book on Bhagat Singh, newspaper article clippings, and three mobile phones. Mr. Malekudiya and his father were charged under Sections 120 B, 124 A of IPC and under Sections 19 and 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

On possession of the book of Bhagat Singh and newspaper cuttings, the judge observed that it was not barred under law. He added that reading newspapers was not barred under law and the articles were not published either by Mr. Malekudiya or his father. “Mere possession of paper cuttings does not amount to offence,” the judge said.

The prosecution, the judge said, has not produced any incriminating data from the three mobile phones to show Mr. Malekudiya and his father had links with Maoist activities. No villager, the judge said, had spoken about Mr. Malekudiya and his father’s association with the Maoists. None of the witnesses have stated that the two have committed sedition, he added.

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