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Varavara Rao among five Left-wing activists held in major swoop

Those arrested included Pendyala Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Gautam Navlakha in Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai and Arun Ferreira in Thane. 

Published: 29th August 2018 05:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st August 2018 04:54 PM   |  A+A-

The searches and arrests were made in connection with the investigations into the clashes at Bhima Koregaon in Pune. (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI/ HYDERABAD: In simultaneous multi-city raids, the Pune police on Tuesday searched the houses of nine civil rights activists and arrested five of them for alleged Maoist links, sparking outrage among activists and intellectuals across India. Those arrested included Pendyala Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Gautam Navlakha in Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai and Arun Ferreira in Thane. 

However, the Delhi High Court stayed Navlakha’s arrest until Wednesday morning, when it will hear his plea opposing the transit remand granted to the Pune police by a local court. In a late evening hearing, the Punjab and Haryana High Court also stayed the transit remand of Bharadwaj for two days. Both of them have been put under house arrest until their pleas are disposed of. Varavara Rao was arrested after eight hours of search at his house and sent to Pune. Various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code were invoked against all five activists. The police seized books, diaries, documents and gadgets like laptops, mobiles, SIM cards, pen drives and CDs from their premises. 

The searches and arrests were made in connection with the investigations into the clashes between Dalits and upper caste Marathas at Bhima Koregaon in Pune on January 1 that was allegedly triggered by the Elgar Parishad (conclave) organised a day earlier. Other activists whose houses were searched but were not arrested included Susan Abraham in Mumbai, Kranthi Tekula in Telangana, Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Anand Teltumbde in Sanquelim (Goa).

This is the second major crackdown by the Pune police on alleged Maoist sympathisers in three months. In June, it had arrested five of them — Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen — for making “provocative” speeches at Elgar Parishad, which allegedly led to the violence.
The police had produced in court letters allegedly recovered from the five arrested activists, which mentioned a plot to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In Hyderabad, Varavara Rao’s relatives claimed they were told by the raiding team that his name figured in the plot. Police sources in Maharashtra said Tuesday’s action was based on the information received from the five arrested activists. 

The arrests evoked sharp reactions from academics, activists and intellectuals, with many dubbing it as an undeclared Emergency. Author Arundhati Roy called the raids “an attempted coup against the Indian Constitution”. Historian Ramachandra Guha took to Twitter to express his outrage. “This is absolutely chilling. The Supreme Court must intervene to stop this persecution and harassment of independent voices,” he said. Congress president Rahul Gandhi saw in it an attempt to shut down all NGOs other than the RSS. “Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India,” he tweeted. 



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  • Raghavendra Prabhu

    Heartening to see that law doesn't discriminate by political leanings. If some individuals who are alleged to have killed so called rationalists and purportedly aligned to a certain right wing group can be arrested, similarly left wing group members who instigate hatred always and have instigated violence that killed many compromising human rights of ordinary civilians must also be arrested and tried. Congratulations to egalitarian government of the day.
    3 years ago reply
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