The senior Congress leader on Saturday condemned the arrests of five activists in connection with Bhima-Koregaon related violence in Maharashtra. While addressing the press in Nagpur, he asserted that there is no such thing as “Urban Naxalism”. Recently, Pune police arrested several activists, including P Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves for their suspected Maoist links on Tuesday. Talking in reference to the same, former Finance Minister said:
“They are Left-wing intellectuals. They are working with tribals and the downtrodden. They are being intimidated by the government because they are perceived as strong opponents of the Right-wing. The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the arrests and disallowed police custody. In the three days since they were arrested, not a shred of evidence has been put forth. These are strong-arm tactics to muzzle freedom of expression and kill any ideological opposition. The arrests were made to instil fear in those speaking against the BJP government.”
He further praised the Supreme Court's order that said "civil rights activism was a safety valve of democracy. All those arrested are intellectuals, poet and rights activists", he said.
When he was reminded that some of the same people were earlier arrested by the then UPA governments too, Chidambaram said that he was not aware of what charges the then Maharashtra government had made the arrests.
“I was not Home minister then. If they were arrested for their Leftist views and activities then it was wrong then, and it is wrong now”, he added.
Earlier in August, the Pune police, aided by different task-forces, raided the houses of several persons, allegedly in connection with a meeting organised days before the caste-related violence that had erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune and spread to Mumbai, at the start of the year, and also, in connection with two letters, from 2016 and 2017, that detail a plot to assassinate PM Modi, as well as Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP party president Amit Shah. Following the raids, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were detained by the police. Transit remand was issued for them and they were taken to Pune where they are to be produced before a court on Wednesday. Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj, meanwhile, have been put under house arrest and habeas corpus petitions against their detentions are to be heard in the Delhi High Court and Chandigarh High Court respectively.
Soon after the activists were detained, a huge political controversy erupted, with the CPI(M), Congress and RJD attacking the Modi government, even as prominent activists and lawyers issued statements against the crackdown.
Get today’s and stay updated with latest news headlines. Follow the latest India news and never miss out on any updates from the world of Politics, Economy, Elections etc. Download the app or visit Republic World to watch Live TV & get all the breaking news from India.