Revolutionary writer Varavara Rao arrested in Hyderabad

Left Varavara Rao Right Kurmanath

Left Varavara Rao Right Kurmanath

Jail all activists and shoot those that complain.

More than 20 civil society groups took to the streets to protest the arrest of activists.

Ten activists were searched and five - Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves - were arrested after synchronized raids last evening.

The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the violence between Dalits and upper caste Peshwas at Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune after an event called Elgar Parishad, or conclave, on December 31 a year ago.

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday afternoon hear a petition challenging the arrests of five human rights lawyers and activists by the Maharashtra Police across the country the previous day, PTI reported.

During the course of the investigation, the police had claimed that they had stumbled on a Maoist letter that spoke of a "Rajiv Gandhi-type incident" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during one of his road shows.

Author and historian Ramachandra Guha called the action "absolutely chilling" and demanded the Supreme Court's intervention to stop this "persecution and harassment" of independent voices. He also erroneously claimed that those arrested have a "previous record", referring specifically to Sudha Bharadwaj.

"This is an attempted coup against the Indian constitution and all the freedoms we cherish", Arundhati Roy, activist and Booker Prize winning novelist, told DW.

A police team from Pune arrested the revolutionary writer after searching his house and the houses of his family members and friends including a journalist.

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According to unconfirmed reports, others whose residences were raided are Susan Abraham, Kranthi Tekula and Anand Teltumbde in Goa. The raids are a follow up to the ones carried out in June in connection with the Bhima Koregaon protests.

In a joint statement, activists, students and academicians said, "this is also an attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy and engage in scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour".

Roy said, "The simultaneous state-wide arrests are a risky sign of a government that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into panic".

India's National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to the government of Maharashtra asking them to explain the arrests while Amnesty International has called it a "crackdown on human rights activists". Another activist Kavita Krishnan also described the action as "undeclared emergency".

Navlakha is journalist and civil rights activist who is also involved with PUCL. "Instead of arresting the actual perpetrators, they are attacking the activists and lawyers who stood up for the Dalits", CPI (M) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury told The Hindu. "They are against any dissent".

Gautam Navlakha: He is a journalist, civil liberties, democratic, and human rights and has always been associated with the People's Union for Democratic Right.

Similarly, Rao has been arrested earlier too. "Ever since the Modi government has come into power, they are trying to kill intellectuals". Wilson was reportedly close to convicted professor GN Saibaba. It is learnt that the police were also suspecting Varavara Rao in collecting the funds for the sake of Maoists.

Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government have dismissed the allegations against the activists, who were detained a day earlier, and said the crackdown was part of ongoing attempts to stifle all dissent.

The document goes on to add that the "File be put up before the undersigned on 30/8/2018 or 31/8/2018 after passing further orders by the Hon'ble High Court".

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