NEW DELHI: Leading intellectuals and civil society members today demanded action against Maharashtra police for launching a "vicious and malafide attack" against human rights activists and called for an immediate end to "such political acts of vendetta".
The arrests of the five activists, in a nationwide crackdown on Tuesday, highlights the violation of all due procedures and is a mockery of the legal system, said a joint statement signed by author Arundhati Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan as well as activists Aruna Roy and Jignesh Mevani among others.
The statement comes a day after the Supreme Court directed that the five activists be kept under house arrest.
They have also demanded that police return the laptops and mobiles seized during the "illegal arrest" of the activists.
"They want to divert attention from real issue and discredit the dalit movement. The so call Maoist plot to Kill the prime minister is an effort to garner sympathy. Dalits will hold protest rallies at various places on September 5 against the government," Mevani said at a press conference.
"What is happening today is more dangerous than the emergency," Bhushan added.
Maharashtra police arrested Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, and raided the homes of several others as part of its probe into the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave in Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune on December 31 last year.
Others whose premises were reportedly searched this week were Father Stan Swamy, Susan Abraham, Kranthi Tekula and Anand Teltumbde.