New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) The arrests of and raids on houses of human rights activists and Left intellectuals across five states “is an ominous pointer to how swiftly the country is coming under an authoritarian regime”, the CPI-M has said.
On Tuesday, Pune Police arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.
The house of academic and Dalit intellectual Anand Teltumbde in Goa, Stan Swami in Ranchi and others were searched. From all the houses, laptops, hard discs, mobile phones and other papers were confiscated and taken away.
The Maharashtra police linked these arrests and searches with the holding of the Elgar Parishad and the Bhima-Koregaon violence that took place on January 1 leaving one person dead.
“So far, the police have provided no shred of evidence to sustain these charges. None of the five arrested in the current round have had any role, or, participation in the Bhima-Koregaon rally,” said an editorial in the CPI-M journal “People’s Democracy”.
It said the Maharashtra Police was reluctant to act against the instigators of the violence blamed on rightwing Hindu groups such as Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide. When the first was not arrested, even the Supreme Court questioned why he was not apprehended. After his arrest, Ekbote came out on bail a month later. Bhide has not been arrested at all.
“Instead, the Maharashtra Police has shown great zeal in going after reputed lawyers and social activists like Sudha Bharadwaj and Anand Teltumbde in their desperate quest to manufacture a Maoist plot.
“The brazen manner in which the police and State machinery was used is also a warning to all other political and social activists not to take up the cause of the Dalits, adivasis and other oppressed sections,” the editorial said.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist said more and more, “the authoritarian regime was targeting all sections – the political opposition, human rights activists, academics, lawyers, journalists and writers”.