Five arrested for ‘Maoist links’ in nationwide raids

Arrests of social activists, lawyers by Maharashtra police spark outrage

August 29, 2018 12:05 am | Updated 07:20 am IST - Mumbai/ New delhi/ Hyderabad/Panaji

In an early morning, co-ordinated crackdown across six States, the Pune police on Tuesday raided the homes of several activists and arrested Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj and Telugu poet Varavara Rao for alleged links to the Communist Party of India-Maoist.

The simultaneous raids were conducted in Mumbai, Thane, Sankhali in Goa, Delhi, Faridabad in Haryana, Hyderabad and Bagaicha near Ranchi.

The raids and arrests sparked outrage and protests from Opposition leaders as well as human rights and civil liberties activists.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury termed the arrests “a brazen attack on democratic rights and liberties,” while Amnesty International India and Oxfam India, in a joint statement, said the crackdown was disturbing and threatened core human-rights values.

‘Govt. in panic’

Author Arundhati Roy said the arrests were “a dangerous sign of a government that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into panic.”

While refusing to share details of the charges against these five activists, the Pune police said they were involved in Maoist activities.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Shivaji Bodkhe neither confirmed nor denied reports about the activists allegedly plotting a ‘Rajiv Gandhi style’ assassination attempt on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that he could not comment at this stage.

“At this point, we can only say that the accused were involved in activities of the Communist Party of India–Maoist. We will be presenting the rest of the details in court on Wednesday when we seek their custody,” Mr. Bodkhe said.

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