TISS students, faculty protest activists’ arrests

Demand release of those held on ‘flimsy allegations’ for Bhima-Koregaon riots

June 17, 2018 12:07 am | Updated 12:07 am IST - Mumbai

Students, alumni and faculty of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have demanded that the five activists arrested by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon riots and accused of having Maoist links be released. One of the accused, Mahesh Raut, completed his Master’s in social work from the institute.

A statement, signed by over 200 people associated with TISS, said the activists were arrested on the basis of “flimsy baseless allegations.”

It said arrests and searches were conducted under a January 8 FIR, registered under sections of the Indian Penal Code. The signatories said the case was turned into a conspiracy case in March and sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) were added to it.

“The arrests have been made under UAPA, which has several draconian provisions that ensure detention of up to six months without any evidence required and make it difficult to obtain bail. Manohar Bhide, one of the two main accused in the violence unleashed on the Dalit bahujan masses marching to celebrate the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din, remains unarrested,” reads the statement. The signatories said the activists were being persecuted for their work with marginalised communities and that the police were yet to produce a single piece of evidence in court, barring two unverified letters.

On June 8, as many as 79 former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows had termed Mr. Raut’s arrest “hasty” and “wrongful”.

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