"The only Lingaram I know (and many of us do) is a young boy staying at Delhi Forum. He has spoken at several public forums and told the story of being kidnapped by the Salwa Judum. The (Indian) Express story is complete crap," author-activist Arundhati Roy told rediff.com in a text message.
An Indian Express report dated July 11, quoting an unsigned press release from the Dantewada police to local newspaper offices, says that Lingaram Kodopi, a tribal from Bastar is the (alleged) mastermind behind the attacks on Congress leader Avdesh Singh Gautam's home and the Kuakonda police station in Bastar last week.
The newspaper said Kodopi was in touch with activists like Arundhati Roy, Himanshu Kumar of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, sociologist Dr Nandini Sundar and Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar.
Roy rejected claims made by the Chhattisgarh police as an old trick that was started by Nazi Germany's propaganda specialist Joseph Goebbels.
"They hope to go on lying till their lies are believed. Old trick. Goebbels started it," she wrote in her text message.
"The police sound as though they are high on pot. But all this is part of a campaign," Roy added.
Himanshu Kumar acknowledged that he knows Lingaram Kodopi, a tribal from Sameli village in Bastar. Kumar spoke from Punjab where he is on a bicycle tour to spread awareness about the government's injustices against the tribals in Dantewada.
He said it was a well-planned move by the Chhattisgarh police to cower activists like him and others named in the Indian Express report.
"People like Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar, Dr Nandini Sundar and me have been successful in exposing the atrocities and high-handedness of the state government and the Union government against the tribals in Chhattisgarh. That is the reason you get to read such reports," he said.
Kumar alleged that Kodopi was abducted by then Dantewada superintendent of police Amresh Mishra eight months ago and detained for over 40 days in a prison toilet. "They wanted him to become an SPO (Special Police Officer who work as part of the Salwa Judum against the Maoists in that area). For 40 days the police tortured him, but he refused to accept their offer."
Mishra was transferred after the April 6 Maoist attack, which left 75 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and one state police constable dead.
Kodopi was released after his family with support from activists like Kumar filed a habeas corpus petition in the Bilaspur high court.
"However, two days later, Lingaram's elder brother Maasa was arrested by the police. But they released him two days later. Then they arrested Lingaram's father after 5 days and detained them for about one month, pressurising him to withdraw the affidavit he had filed detailing prison torture," Kumar said.
He added that activists working in the villages then asked Lingaram Kodopi to move out of Sameli fearing for his life. They advised him to go to Delhi and study journalism. Lingaram, who Kumar says, was admitted to a Delhi journalism college this month, has now become a threat to the district administration in Dantewada.
"As it is, the police fear their atrocities and torture will be exposed. What they fear more is they being exposed by a tribal journalist like Lingaram," he added.