On Tuesday morning, Pune police raided several cities in the country and arrested five social workers, human rights activists, journalists and lawyers. The raids were conducted in Delhi, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Goa and Mumbai. During the police action, laptops, pen drives and mobiles were taken into their possession during searches in the houses of social workers.
Human rights activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha has been arrested from Delhi, human rights advocate Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad, social activists Vernon Gonzalvis and Arun Parera from Mumbai and Kavi Varvara Rao have been arrested from Hyderabad. Apart from these people, police have also raided the houses of Ranchi social activist Father Stan Swamy, Kranti Tekula and Goa’s Dalit thinker Anand Teltumbde.
This action taken by the Pune Police has been done in the case of violence in Bhima Koregaon in January this year. In this case, about three months ago, the Pune police arrested five social workers and lawyers. The police named it the Urban Naxal Network. The police claim that during the interrogation of these five people, the names of all these people have come out against whom action has been taken on Tuesday.
What is the whole matter
There is a village named Bhima Koregaon in Pune district of Maharashtra. Two hundred years ago, on 1 January 1818, there was a fight in this village between the East India Company and the Maratha army led by the Peshwas. In this battle, the Marathas were defeated by the soldiers of the Dalit Mahar caste, fighting on behalf of the East India Company. Mahars are considered untouchables in Maharashtra. Since the Peshwas were Brahmins, this battle is also seen as the victory of the Mahars over the Brahmins.
To celebrate this victory of Bhima Koregaon, Dalits gather from all over Maharashtra on January 1 every year. This year, two hundred years of this battle were completed. Therefore, around 250 different organizations across the country organized a ‘Yalgar Parishad’ on 31 December 2017. Thousands of people attended this event and on the very next day, on January 1, lakhs of Dalits had gathered near Bhima Koregaon War Memorial.
It was told in the reports that a group of people started throwing stones at this gathering of Dalits with saffron flags. After this, violence erupted here in which many vehicles were set on fire. This violence did not stop here and one person died in it.
Dalits allege that this violence was instigated by Hindutva organizations. They said that such organizations were inciting people against Dalits for the last several days. On January 3, the Pune police registered a case against Milind Ekbote, the head of the ‘Hindu Ekta Manch’ and Sambhaji Bhide, the head of the ‘Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan’. Both of them were accused of inciting violence against Dalits. Milind Ekbote was also arrested in this case, but he was soon released on bail. Whereas Sambhaji Bhide was never arrested.
When the investigation took a U-turn
The investigation of the case took a major U-turn in April. Till now, allegations of violence with Dalits were being leveled against the Hindu organization. But in April, the police started raiding the house of the organizers of ‘Yalgar Parishad’. The raids were carried out at the homes and offices of social activist Roma Wilson, human rights advocate Surendra Gadling, social activist Mahesh Raut, Professor of English at Nagpur University, Shoma Sen and Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale.
In June, the police arrested these five people. The police alleged that these people had contact with Maoist organizations and the ‘Yalgar Parishad’ was getting financial help from the Maoist organization.
The police also said that on January 1, just before the gathering of Dalits in Bhima Koregaon, the Yalgar Parishad held a secret meeting which was supported by the Naxalites. An action plan for violence was prepared in this meeting.
Two days after the arrest of these five people, the police made two public letters. Police said that they had recovered this letter from Roma Wilson and another person and the letter mentioned the conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
From here, this entire matter has changed. Now the violence in Bhima Koregaon has been left behind and the whole case has become a conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister by the alleged Maoists. The arrests on Tuesday are also being linked to the increasing investigation in this direction. Many doubts have arisen over the credibility of the alleged letter which was issued by the police. Because no investigation has been done so far. That is why many human rights activists have also questioned the role of the police in this case.
These arrests on Tuesday have raised questions by eminent intellectuals from across the country. Famous historian Ramachandra Guha has tweeted about this, “As a biographer of Gandhi, I have no doubt that if Mahatma were alive today, he would surely have stood in court in defense of Sudha Bhardwaj; Had the Modi government not even arrested him (Gandhiji) yet. ”
Famous writer Arundhati Roy has also opposed these arrests. Talking to the BBC, he said, “Instead of those who murdered the public and lynched, lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights fighters and intellectuals are being raided here.” This shows where India is headed. The killers will be honored, but those who speak against justice and Hindu majoritarianism are being criminalized. Is this a preparation for the coming elections? ”
Rahul Pandita, author and journalist of the book ‘Hello Bastar’, also tweeted with surprise at these arrests, “This is madness. Sudha Bhardwaj has nothing to do with Maoists. He is a social worker whose work I have been a fan of for many years. ”
Senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said, “This is clearly a declaration of emergency. These people (government) are behind every person who has also spoken against the government on the question of rights. They are against any kind of protest. ”