Activist Vernon Gonsalves: A morning under house arrest

The police left to take up positions at the entrance of the building.

Updated - August 31, 2018 12:35 am IST

Published - August 30, 2018 10:42 pm IST - Mumbai

Activist Vernon Gonsalves at his residence at Mumbai on Thursday.

Activist Vernon Gonsalves at his residence at Mumbai on Thursday.

Activist Vernon Gonsalves returned home on Thursday morning after a 48-hour ordeal that started at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, when his house was raided by the Pune police. Mr Gonsalves and four other activists were arrested under the various sections of the IPC and the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that the five be placed under house arrest until September 6.

Around 7.30 a.m. there was another knock on the door as Mr. Gonsalves’ wife Susan Abraham and her son Sagar were having their first cup of tea. Outside stood Mr. Gonsalves with two policemen — one from Pune police and one from the local MIDC police station. They were surrounded by a mob of photographers.

The police left to take up positions at the entrance of the building.

Around 7 a.m., Ms. Abraham had received a call from Arun Ferreira’s wife, confirming that he had come home.

The families had spent some anxious hours as they had been informed to expect both men, who had left Pune a little past midnight, at around 4 a.m.

As the family was settling in with the first cup of tea, calls were made to friends and family, first being Ms. Abraham’s father, who lives in Kerala and Mr. Gonsalves’ brother. Between the calls Mr. Gonsalves also asked about Wednesday, curious to know about the sequence of events and most notably the developments at the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court.

Around 8 a.m. Ms Abraham got a call from Hyderabad to tell her that poet Varavara Rao had also returned home.

Soon after the call, the family had hot piping parathas for breakfast, as calls and messages kept pouring in. Many asked about Mr. Gonsalves’ health as well as inquired what being under house arrest meant. People also expressed a sense of relief that he was back home, while many, through humorous banter, lightened the overall mood. ‘Are there any police inside the home?’ was a common question. There were none at home, but six were stationed within the apartment complex they live in.

Mr. Gonsalves made coffee for the family, another morning ritual, around 9 a.m. as Ms Abraham started getting ready to go to the High Court as one of her cases was listed for the day. Calls and chit chat continued through the morning and around 11.30 a.m. Mr. Gonsalves made a round of tea for the family as well as the police posted outside, just as they had done on Tuesday when their home was being searched.

The morning was an oasis of normalcy for the family’s life. Many feared a repeat of the events that played out nearly a decade ago, when Mr. Gonsalves was similarly picked up and his home was searched. That time his family and friends had lost him for over five years. He was acquitted of all but one case, which is under appeal in the Bombay High Court.

In the back of everyone’s mind was the fact that this was just an interim relief, a breather from the longer battle for justice, which was still under way. Thursday morning, however, was spent by the family together as they have done for the last five years, since Mr. Gonsalves’ release. As a close family friend reportedly told Mr. Gonsalves, “Get rest. Make the best of the house arrest”.

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