New Delhi: The BJP will “try to derail everything” with “some surprise attack” in the run-up to the 2019 elections, writer-activist Arundhati Roy alleged on Thursday as she joined leading intellectuals and civil society members to demand action against Maharashtra police for launching a “vicious and malafide attack” against human rights activists.
A joint statement signed by Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and activists Aruna Roy and Jignesh Mevani among others said the arrests “highlight the violation of all due procedures and are a mockery of the legal system”.
Launching a series of attacks on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government, Roy, a Booker-winning novelist and activist, asked people not to allow their "attention to stray from even when strange events befall us".
"Modi government is following divert and rule. We will not know from where and how and when and what kind of fireball is going to fall on us. They are trying to distract us," Roy said, before firing a series of salvos that targeted the government on its “anti-Dalit”, “anti-poor” and “anti-minority” policies such as demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Criticising the government, Mevani said the “so-called Maoist plot to kill the Prime Minister is an effort to garner sympathy”. "They want to divert attention from real issue and discredit the Dalit movement. The Dalits will hold protest rallies at various places on September 5 against the government,” he said.
The statements come a day after the Supreme Court directed that the five activists be kept under house arrest. “While the poor have suffered enormously, several corporations close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have multiplied their wealth several times over. Businessmen like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya have run away with thousands of crores of public money while the government looked away,” Roy alleged.
Pointing to the investigation by the Karnataka Police into the assassination of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, she said it has “unveiled several Hindu right-wing organisations like the Sanatan Sanstha”.
“This has shown the existence of a full blown terror network with hit-lists, hideouts, safe houses, arms, ammunition and plans to bomb, kill and poison people... As it prepares for the 2019 general elections, the BJP has emerged by far the wealthiest political party in India. Outrageously, the electoral bonds ensure that the source of the donations to political parties can remain anonymous,” the author said.
“How many of these groups do we know about? How many of these are still working in secret? They have the assurance and blessing of the powerful and even the police. With the elections coming what plans do they have in store for us? What surprise attack, where will they be, in Kashmir, in Kumbh mela, or in Ayodhya. They will attempt to derail everything with some minor or major attack," Roy alleged.
She termed the arrest of the five activistsas "illegal" and asked people not to forget that "by arresting public interest lawyers and human rights activists, the government is actually isolating lakhs of people because these are their representatives, the helpers of the poorest of the poor."
Maharashtra police had 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, triggering massive outcry all over the country.
Others whose premises were reportedly searched this week were Father Stan Swamy, Susan Abraham, Kranthi Tekula and Anand Teltumbde.