Bhima Koregaon violence: Outrage over multi-city raids, arrests of rights activists

Searches were carried out at the residences of poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade unionist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad.

Published: 28th August 2018 06:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2018 07:05 PM   |  A+A-


Human Rights activist Goutam Navalakha and eminent writer and social activist Arundhati Roy. (Photo | File/PTI)


NEW DELHI: There was an outpouring of reactions from academics, intellectuals, activists, lawyers and journalists after the raids and arrest of human rights activists in six cities on Tuesday. 

Many termed the Pune police crackdown as “undeclared Emergency” while the CPI(M) called it a “brazen attack” on “democratic right and civil liberties”. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “Ever since the Bhima Koregoan violence against Dalits, the Maharashtra Police along with central agencies have been targeting Dalit rights activists and lawyers who have been taking up their cases. This is a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties.”

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The Amnesty International India also came down on the government over the police crackdown on human rights activists. “The government should protect people’s right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly instead of creating an atmosphere of fear,” it said in a tweet.“Their arrests raise disturbing questions about whether they are being targeted for their activism,” Amnesty International India’s executive director Aakar Patel said in a statement.

“Under the Modi regime’s undeclared Emergency, rights activists and dissenters are either shot at, killed, raided, arrested and jailed. The arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao follow on the heels of the murderous attack on Umar Khalid,” tweeted activist Kavita Krishnan on Twitter. Advocate Prashant Bhushan also took to Twitter to speak out against the raids. “Getting the news that Pune police have raided/arrested among the finest Human rights activists&dissenting voices, such as Sudha Bharadwaj (a human rights lawyer), Gautam Navlakha (Former Pres of PUDR), Fr Stan Swamy (a human rights activist) & Ors. Fascist fangs are now openly bared (sic.),” his post said.

Students, journalists, politicians, filmmakers and Dalit and social activists condemned the police action in a joint statement. “By arresting them, the BJP is only exposing its insecurities and its intolerance to any dissent or criticism of its policies... Both the arrests and the physical attacks on justice loving people must be seen in a series of attempts to stifle dissent and deny social justice. We demand an immediate release of the arrested individuals, dropping of all false and malicious charges, as these arrests are politically motivated and unjustified,” the statement read. 

Some of the signatories to the statement included former vice-president of JNU students’ union Shehla Rashid, journalists Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Neha Dixit, Gujarat MLA and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani, social activist Teesta Setalvad and Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh.  

Ranchi priest linked to Pathalgadi movement

Jesuit social activist priest Father Stan Lourdusamy, popularly known as Stan Swamy, was quizzed for over four hours by the police team that landed at his house. Swami objected when he was asked to sign on the ‘panchnama’ written in Marathi, following which he was given an undertaking that he would be provided the same in Hindi. Then Swami signed on it. Activists gathered at his residence on hearing about the search. Swami, along with 19 others, has also been accused of inciting tension on the ‘Pathalgadi’ issue through Facebook posts.


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