The Supreme Court today heard a plea challenging the arrest of five activists who were rounded up for alleged Maoists links from different parts of the country on Tuesday.
Maharashtra Police had arrested five left-wing activists Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira on Tuesday.
Following this Apex court has then issued a notice to the Maharashtra Government and has ordered that the five accused activists be under house arrest till the next hearing, that is on September 6.
The Supreme Court that is hearing the petition of Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and others against the arrest of activists Sudha Bhardwaj and activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon matter today observed, “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy.
If dissent is not allowed, then the pressure cooker may burst.” The SC has also issued a notice to the Maharashtra Government and to other parties, seeking a reply by September 5.
Earlier tuesday’s arrest of lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, civil liberties activists Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Fereira and poet-activist Varavara Rao from different parts of India triggered a massive outcry both in social media and inside media Industry .
Trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who was picked up by the Maharashtra Police for her suspected links with Maoists, said those speaking against human rights violation and fighting for the rights of Dalits and tribals are being targeted by the “present regime”.
Bharadwaj, along with several other Left-wing activists, was arrested yesterday in multi-city raids. She has been confined at her residence in Faridabad, under the guard of police officers, and allowed to meet only her lawyer.
As in June, these arrests were made in connection with the ongoing investigations into the January 1 caste riots in Koregaon-Bhima in the Pune district and a subsequent complaint lodged in the matter.
Besides, police raided another eight activists across the country, including Kranti L.C., Fr. Stan Swami, and Anand Teltumbde, in the major operation as part of the ongoing probe into the involvement of Maoist supporters into the Koregaon-Bhima riots.
Officials described Tuesday’s operations as a ‘follow-up’ to similar action taken in April-June when the Pune police swooped on over half a dozen Dalit activists and those involved with the Kabir Kala Manch, which organised an Elgar Conference in Pune on December 31, 2017.
The next day, on January 1, caste riots erupted in Koregaon-Bhima which left one person dead, culminating in a Maharashtra shutdown on January 3 called by the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, headed by Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar.