LUCKNOW: About 190 alumni, faculty, students, staff and others associated with IIT-Kanpur have joined condemned the crackdown on human rights activists, especially Sudha Bharadwaj, who are under house arrest in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case.
In a statement, the group expressed its distress over the 'arbitrary' arrest of activists in the country-wide raids last month. It sought an independent probe by the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) into the episode.
Calling the charges against Bharadwaj a "figment of imagination", the group claimed that the arrest seemed to be an attempt to malign her reputation and discredit her causes. "We exhort an independent and impartial investigation by the National Human Rights Commission into the circumstances of their arrests," says the statement.
Bharadwaj, lawyers Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, activist Gautam Navlakha, writer-activist Varavara Rao are charged with having links to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).
While demanding the immediate release of Bharadwaj and others, the statement asserts the crackdown is a part of an alleged ongoing intimidation of activists, writers, professors, scribes and human rights protectors by the dispensation.
Pointing out that the charges against Bharadwaj appear to be totally concocted, the statement says it is evident from the contradictory nature of the public statements issued by the prosecution and even a cursory glance at the prime evidence in the form of a letter allegedly written by her.
"It is also very curious that the dubious letters are entirely unaccompanied by any further evidence and were first leaked to selective media outlets, and the prosecution seems to be more prepared for a 'media trial' than an actual one," reads the statement.
On August 29, the Pune Police had raided carried out simultaneous raids in Mumbai, Ranchi, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa as a part of an investigation into last year's caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon. However, the Supreme Court has stayed the transit remand of the arrested activists and ordered that they be placed under house arrest till September 12.