Pune police says arrested people had links with Kashmiri separatists: Pune Police said today it had "evidence" which suggested that there was a plan to target the "highest political functionaries". Joint Commissioner of Pune Police Shivajirao Bodkhe also claimed to have evidence to suggest that the arrested people had links with Kashmiri separatists. While addressing a press conference he said the Elgar Parishad had been funded by the Maoists. Bodkhe said the arrested activists have shown a strong intolerance to the political system.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi grabbed the opportunity to hit out at RSS, saying "There is only place for one NGO in India and it's called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain."
Sujatha, daughter of activist Varvara Rao who was arrested on Tuesday said that the entire house was searched and papers, hard disks and old phones were taken.
#Hyderabad: The entire house was searched & papers, hard disks, even old phones have been taken by them: Sujatha, daughter of activist Varvara Rao who was arrested yesterday in connection with #BhimaKoregaon violence case. pic.twitter.com/GYRrCnvpyy— ANI (@ANI) 29 August 2018
Delhi HC also observed that even if all other arrests in the matter were found to be valid, it would not lend validity to the arrest of Navlakha. The Maharashtra Police wanted to arrest Navlakha and take him to Pune in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event, 'Elgaar Parishad' held on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.
Delhi HC questions Maharashtra government over Navlakha's arrest: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday questioned the Maharashtra government over the arrest of rights activist Gautam Navlakha and said it will examine the legality of the state police's action to arrest him and the transit remand order to take him to a Pune court, PTI reported. However, after the Supreme Court almost simultaneously heard a petition challenging the arrest of Navlakha and four other activists and ordered that all of them would be kept under house arrest till September 6, the high court said it would pass a direction only after going through the top court's order. It also observed that even if all other arrests in the matter were found to be valid, it would not lend validity to the arrest of Navlakha.
The arrests of activists have drawn condemnation from several opposition leaders and people from different walks of life. On Tuesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at the government. "There is only place for one NGO in India and it's called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India," Gandhi had said in his tweet yesterday with the hashtag Bhima Koregaon.
There is only place for one NGO in India and it's called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 28 August 2018
Welcome to the new India. #BhimaKoregaon
UAPA being misused to terrorise people : Anand Teltumbde | Civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde, whose house was raided along with those of several other Left-wing activists over suspected Maoist links, on Wednesday told PTI that the government was "misusing" the draconian UAPA law to terrorise people into "silence" by targeting select intellectuals and activists. Urging the judiciary to take note of the "monumental harassment and torture" of innocent people like him were undergoing, Teltumbde in a statement, described the circumstances in which the raid was conducted at his residence in Goa. The entire process is conducted as though I was a dreaded terrorist or criminal," he said in the statement. The activist said in his role as a public intellectual, he has been critical of the policies of the government which he said were "voiced in not a superficial way but with scholastic discipline"."I, like many other people who have been targeted by people, was not even in the conference. With what stretch of imagination could I have even been suspected to have connection with these things? The entire episode is based on a letter police produced, the authenticity of which is far from established.
Activist and former president of JNU student’s council, Shehla Rashid shared on Twitter a joint statement calling for the release of the arrested activists. She wrote, “4,700 prominent citizens have signed the joint statement calling for the release of @Sudhabharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao & Vernon Gonsalves. We are compiling all the signatures and adding them to the statement.”
4,700 prominent citizens have signed the joint statement calling for the release of @Sudhabharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao & Vernon Gonsalves. We are compiling all the signatures and adding them to the statement.— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) 29 August 2018
Suna, @narendramodi ji?https://t.co/FIGEuAdaTw
According to ANI agency, Bahujan Samajwadi Party also criticised the arrests of the activists.
Arrests of activists who fight in court against oppression of Dalits, Tribals & backward communities in the nation, to spread terror and fear of the govt, is autocracy & utmost exploitation of power by BJP: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on arrests of activists in #BhimaKoregaonCase pic.twitter.com/X4lysYjrrI— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) 29 August 2018
DMK president MK Stalin criticised the arrests of activists and said that it reflects an authoritarian mindset that disregards civil rights. in a tweet, Stalin said, "The brazen attempt by the Union Govt to imprison its critics reflects an authoritarian mindset that disregards civil rights. The space for dissent is essential to every democracy. I urge the Govt to drop all such unconstitutional actions immediately. #DefendDissent"
The brazen attempt by the Union Govt to imprison its critics reflects an authoritarian mindset that disregards civil rights. The space for dissent is essential to every democracy. I urge the Govt to drop all such unconstitutional actions immediately. #DefendDissent— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) 29 August 2018
ALSO READ | 'Frightened Modiji Making Way for Emergency': Lalu Prasad on Arrest of Activists
Condemning arrests of five activists after raids in seven cities, Rashtriya Janata Dal ,Lalu Prasad Yadav, said that the country "is headed for autocracy".
Yashwant Sinha terms arrests an “assault on freedom of speech”| Former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha today alleged "emergency-line" conditions are prevailing in the country under the present regime and the arrest of five activists on suspicion of Maoist links shows that any voice of dissent is not safe. "What happened yesterday is the prime example of assault on freedom of speech and freedom of the press," he told reporters here. The Pune police on Tuesday raided residences of several prominent activists in several states and arrested at least five of them for suspected Maoist links.
“It's not right to demoralise police. Bhima Koregaon violence was serious blow to our nation and constitution. Plot of igniting caste tensions is out in open now, and police are taking action,” Hansraj Ahir, MoS Home was quoted as saying by ANI agency.
It's not right to demoralise police. #BhimaKoregaonViolence was serious blow to our nation&consitution. Plot of igniting caste tensions is out in open now, & police are taking action. Courts are there & if they think they're innocent, then they can seek bail:Hansraj Ahir,MoS Home pic.twitter.com/bbvUnf3BYW— ANI (@ANI) 29 August 2018
ALSO READ | Sudha Bharadwaj Did Exemplary Work in Chhattisgarh, Our Fight Will Continue, Say Fellow Activists
Rinchin, who has known Sudha Bharadwaj for 20 years and has worked with her closely in Chhattisgarh, spoke to News18 about how the activists In Chhattisgarh have found themselves in the state's cross hairs over the years.
Pune Police held a briefing after the Supreme Court ordered house arrest for all the activists till September 6.
#BREAKING -- Have strong evidence against the arrested. All five accused have Maoist links and documents linked to conspiracy seized, says the @PuneCityPolice in a press briefing. | #BhimaKoregaonRaids pic.twitter.com/YEIzlyFaiF— News18 (@CNNnews18) 29 August 2018
In a tweet, actor and writer Twinkle Khanna said on Wednesday, "Freedom is not lost all at once, it is lost in units of one, one at a time, one activist, one lawyer, one writer till finally it’s each one of us."
Freedom is not lost all at once, it is lost in units of one, one at a time, one activist, one lawyer, one writer till finally it’s each one of us..— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) 29 August 2018
Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan addresses media: Five human rights activists were arrested by Pune police yesterday. Several others, who have been working for the marginalised were also searched. A public interest petition was filed challenging the arrests. Supreme Court heard the matter today and has issued notice to the Maharashtra government and the centre. It also ordered that five rights activists be kept under house arrest till September 6. The next hearing will take place after a week, on Thursday.
The prosecution told Delhi High Court that the accused were active members of CPI(M) and had hatched a conspiracy to form All India United Front, an anti-fascist front in Maharashtra through Elgaar Parishad. It further said that it had created an environment of intolerance to overthrow the government and some innocent persons and security persons were also on the target of CPI(M).
In the Pune sessions court, the public prosecutor said that Varavara Rao, Arun Fereira and Vernon Gonsalves all were members of the CPI Maoist. He claims that they were instigating and motivating general public to join the banned group and wanted to wage war against the government of India. The prosecutor also produced the letter that was seized after the arrest of five activists in June which indicated plans to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and Home Minister Rajnath Singh. He says that this letter includes the names of Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves in the first line itself. Another letter was submitted to the court along with a catalogue: “As per our conversation in April this year, I am in touch with our suppliers in Nepal. Our com from Manipur will also assist us. Only V V Rao has the authority to purchase arms (sic),” it reads. “Sending catalog of weapons available along with this letter that are to be purchased with permission of VV (sic)" it adds.
Delhi HC to Examine Transit Order Passed by CMM | Delhi High Court said that except for the remand papers, everything else was in Marathi. Even at 4: 20 pm on Wednesday, the court did not have the complete bunch of translated documents. Delhi High Court said that it would be examining the transit order passed by the CMM.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan questioned the arrests and said that the state should clarify the reason behind the arrests. "Are they for Bhima Koregaon violence or Elgar Parishad or death threat to PM or naxal activities? Government is conveniently ambiguous, wants to divert attention from Sanatan Sanstha", Chavan said. He added that the arrests of prominent people are an effort to muzzle voices of dissent. He further alleged that the centre and state were dragging feet on banning Sanatan Sanstha, despite seizure of bombs and arrest of members.
Searches were carried out at the residences of Left wing activist and poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and Chhattisgarh and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha in Delhi.
Along with Sudha, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonzalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navalakha were also arrested, an official said, while refusing to be identified. The activists have been booked under various sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and are unlikely to get bail today.
A habeas corpus plea was filed at the Delhi High Court, which stayed the transit remand of Navlakha that police obtained from a local court to take Navlakha to a court in Pune. Delhi HC said he will be put under house arrest till it hears the case tomorrow morning.
The police action has led to outrage, with several human rights activists, oraganisations and political parties calling it an attempt to muzzle democracy. Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar targeted the central government for the raids and said it is paralyzing the political system. “Those who are raising voice against this govt are NGOs. With this raid govt is trying to silence these masses,” he said.
Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy wrote to News18, saying that the fact that the raids are taking place on the homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals - instead of on those who make up lynch mobs and murder people in broad daylight tells us very clearly where India is headed.
"Murderers will be honoured and celebrated. Anybody who speaks up for justice or against Hindu majoritarianism is being made into a criminal. What is happening is absolutely perilous. It is in preparation for the coming elections. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to all come together. Otherwise we will lose every freedom that we cherish. It is as close to a declaration of an Emergency as we are going to get,” she added.
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