Prashant Rahi is a Journalist, Activist, Researcher, and a Translator. He was involved in the movement for a separate Uttarakhand, and he emerged as a social activist. Proficient in languages, books on Lokmanya Tilak, a book on economics for children, and one on medicine are his translation works.
Life and Activism –
Prashant Rahi completed his BTech and MTech from IIT-BHU, Varanasi. He then started working in a power company in UP until his early 30s and went on to become a journalist in 1993, working with The Himachal Times and then The Statesman until 2000. He rose to prominence between these years. He has a wife and a daughter to take care of.
Circumstances of Arrest
He participated in the movement against the Tehri dam in 2001 and simultaneously remained a part of the movements that fought for people’s causes, following which he started providing legal help to people inclined to Maoist ideology. This raised suspicion about him as a Maoist sympathizer, which ended up in getting him arrested on Dec 21, 2007, under charges of sedition and UAPA, accusing him of anti-state conspiracies.
After being in jail for over 3 years, he was bailed out in August 2011. Post-release, his legal aid to political prisoners led him to his second arrest under UAPA in September 2013, which the police stated was based on the disclosure of Hem Mishra, an alleged Naxal courier arrested a month earlier. As the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court was skeptical about the Maoist documents the police claimed to have seized from Rahi, he got bail in August 2014.
In March 2017, he was again accused of having Maoist links, when along with six others, including DU Professor Saibaba, Rahi was granted a lifetime sentence in March 2017. Rahi’s arrest was presented by the Uttarakhand police as a “major strike against Naxalism.” His first application for suspension of life sentence was rejected by the Nagpur bench, citing the Maoist documents the police claimed to be of Rahi’s. Ironically, these were the same papers the bench was once skeptical about, citing which it granted Rahi bail in 2014.
Subsequently, his bail applications had been adjourned by the court due to the pandemic, citing that it requires a physical hearing given the need for lengthy arguments and extensive scrutiny of papers. Despite the public prosecution not having proved Rahi’s charges and the material contradictions in the testimony of two police officers who claim to have detained him, Prashant Rahi continued to be in prison, lodged in Amaravati jail.
Charges & Allegations
He has been booked under Section 121 (waging or abetting war against the state),120B (criminal conspiracy),121A (conspiring against the state),124A (sedition) and 153B (posing a threat to national unity, integrity) of the IPC, and under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (being a member of a terrorist organization or gang), IPC section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and five sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) – 13 (unlawful activity), 18 (conspiracy), 20 (punishment for being a member of terrorist gang or organization), 38 – membership of a terrorist organization and 39 – support to a terrorist organization.
In January 2022, Prashant Rahi and three others, who were accused by the Uttarakhand police of being Maoists, were acquitted after the case against them collapsed – 14 years after their arrest. However, he is still incarcerated in the Maharashtra state of western India after being given a life sentence in a different case. The courts have yet to hear his appeal against the conviction.