RSS, Modi crushing voices of dissent, say activists

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New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) A large number of activists, writers and representatives of Left-affiliated organisations on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for “intimidating and crushing” the voices of dissent.

Converging at Maharastra Sadan here to protest under the banner of “Citizens Protest” against the police raids and “illegal arrests” of human rights activists, the activists demanded that all five be released immediately.

Historian Shamsul Islam said: “This BJP government first branded the dissenting people as anti-national, next terrorists…and now they have coined a nonsense term called ‘urban Naxal’, only to intimidate and crush the voices of dissent.”

The Pune police on Tuesday said it had arrested five human rights activists and alleged that Maoist sympathisers, including Telugu poet Varavara Rao, were directly linked to the Bhima Koregaon riots in Maharashtra on January 1.

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Hero Honda Theka Mazdoor Sangathan vice-president Rakhi Sehgal said that despite court order, the Pune police tried to take away trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj on Tuesday from Uttar Pradesh.

“More than 15 police personnel came to arrest a woman… The investigating officer in the court was just reading the sections, instead of proving the allegations on her,” Sehgal added.

Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan general secretary Poonam Kaushik said that Milind Eknote and Sambhaji Bhide, who allegedly provoked violence in Bhima Koregaon, wre roaming scot-free.

“Sunil Bharadwaj and four other activists are arrested because they opposed earlier arrests of activists Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut, who were defending the arrests of innocent Dalits,” said Kaushik.

National Campaign for People’s Right to Information co-convenor Anjali Bharadwaj said “this attempt is to send a clear signal to spread fear that if you raise inconvenient questions to the government, you will be targeted”.

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