The investigating officer (IO) in cases pertaining to Hem Mishra and Prashant Rahi, arrested by the Gadchiroli police in August-September last year, has received over 20,000 letters from across the world declaring the alleged Naxal couriers “innocent activists” and pleading for their release.
The continuing flood of 40-50 letters a day has given Suhas Bawche an opportunity to collect stamps of various countries. “Initially, it bothered me since I used to get 300-500 letters every day. Now, I am trying to get over it by comforting myself with the thought that it is actually an opportunity to collect stamps of so many different countries,” the IO said.
A majority of the mail has come in from Europe and the US, with the Netherlands sending 60 per cent. Some letters are from China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The flow has reduced since, and now 40-50 letters come daily. “The contents are the same. The writers say the two (Mishra and Rahi) are innocent and honest activists. They say Rahi was arrested in 2007 and was tortured in jail. The writers have urged me not to harm him in custody,” Bawche said.
The source draft of the letter posted on online urges people to write to Bawche. “Detained journalist Prashant Rahi at risk of torture in India”, says a headline on the site with an ‘Amnesty International’ byline under it, and calls on people to urgently write to the IO.
Bawche has replied to only two of the letters — one from Amnesty and the other from NHRC. “We have explained we have ample evidence against the two and they are being treated fairly in custody,” he said, adding, “Rahi has said in a newspaper interview that he has been treated well.” Asked why there was a deluge from Netherlands, Bawche said, “We have no clue.”