Bhima Koregaon raids latest updates: Lashing out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his tweet calling the arrested as "human rights activists", BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "Today, Congress has reached a new low. The Congress is standing with the Left-Wing Extremists. Naxals are Naxals when you arrest them, but they are human rights' activists when we arrest them?"
At a press conference, the Pune Police said that the activists arrested for suspected Maoist links had shown a strong intolerance to political system.
The Supreme Court ordered that they be placed under house arrest till 5 September. During the hearing the counsel appearing for Maharashtra, raised the issue of maintainability of the plea, saying a "stranger" cannot seek relief for the activists who have already approached the high courts.
The Maharashtra government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that "strangers" cannot seek relief for activists who have already approached the high court. The plea in the apex court is by historian Romila Thapar and four other human right activists against the arrest of Left-wing activists by Maharashtra Police for suspected links with Maoists.
In the pune court, the public prosecutor has told the court that Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernn Gonsalves were members of the CPI Maoist.
Delhi High Court has questioned the credibility of the witnesses to Gautam Navlakha's arrest.
Three of the five Left-wing activists, who were arrested yesterday by Maharashtra Police in connection with its ongoing probe into suspected Maoist links to an event held in Pune, have reached the Pune district court. Telugu poet Varavara Rao, and activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were brought to Pune late on Tuesday night.
The Delhi High Court has deferred the hearing on the transit remand of Gautam Navlakha for 3.30 pm today. The hearing was postponed because the petitioner's lawyer was not present. The court said that they will hear the plea today itself even if they have to sit beyond the usual working hours.
The Delhi High Court has started hearing the plea against arrest of journalist Gautam Navlakha. The Division bench composed of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel of the Delhi High Court is hearing the matter.
Gautam Navlakha has issued a statement ahead of the hearing in Delhi High Court. He said that this is a political ploy by this vindictive and cowardly government to shield the real culprits of the Bhima Koregaon violence.
In its notice to Maharashtra government, the National Human Rights Commission has also mentioned the arrests of Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Surendra Gadling in June as well. The NHRC said it received complaints from a Geneva-based NGO and sought a fact-based report in the case within four weeks.
The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo-motu notice of the arrest of five rights' actvists from various states. The commission, in its notice to the Maharashtra government, said that it has observed a violation of certain rights in the manner the activists were arrested and that certain standard operating procedures were not followed.
Janata Dal United has taken a cautious view of the matter relating to the arrest of intellectuals and human rights activists. Although the party did not openly oppose the police action, JD(U) leader Pawan Verma said that now that the government has gone ahead with the arrests, they should be able to back their actions with proof.
Massive protests broke out in Hyderabad as civil rights groups, journalists and professors took to streets to protest against the arrest of activists' including Telegu poet Varavara Rao. The police has detained the protestors.
The Division bench composed of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel of the Delhi High Court, will now hear the writ petition filed by activist Gautam Navlakha at 2.15 pm on Wednesday. The matter was scheduled to be taken up today morning, however, it was postponed for a later time after Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi submitted that translation of documents isn't ready and the same will be provided to petitioners by 12 noon today.
Professor Romila Thapar has filed a petition against the arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders in the Supreme Court. The petition, which is being represented by advocate Vrinda Grover on Thapar's behalf, is supported by Indira Jaisingh and other prominent human rights activist. The matter is likely to be mentioned before the Chief Justice of India today.
Advocate Susan Abraham, and wife of Vernon Gonsalves, said that the police crackdown against the activists was politically motivated and the authorities were acting under pressure from the government. "But will your case stand the scrutiny of a court," she asked.
After Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted against the government action on Left-wing and human rights activists, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju has hit out at him today. Calling 'Maoists' number one threat to national security, Rijiju criticised Rahul for coming out in support of 'Maoists.'
Human Rights Groups and various activists have decried the arrest of five Left-leaning intellectuals and raids at their homes. Author Arundhati Roy called the Maharashtra Police crackdown 'an attempted coup against the Indian Constitution' while historian Ramachandra Guha called the action "absolutely chilling". Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said, "Fascist fangs are now openly bared. It is a clear declaration of emergency. They are going after anyone who has spoken against the government on rights issues. They are against any dissent."
A letter purportedly written by a Maoist leader and seized by the police in April this year hails prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao for his alleged "guidance" in various Naxal activities in the country.
The letter in question was part of a bunch of documents seized by the Pune police during the searches at the premises of five people arrested in June this year for alleged links with Maoists. The searches were carried out in different parts of the country in April. The letter written in Hindi by one comrade named Milind, hails Rao, described as a "senior comrade", and advocate Surendra Gadling for their "guidance" in carrying out Naxal activities in various parts of the country.
Police on Tuesday arrested five human rights activists and alleged Maoist sympathizers, including Left ideologue Varavara Rao, in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima riots in Maharashtra.
The raids took place at 10 places in Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Haryana.
"We have arrested Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Pereira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha," Joint Police Commissioner of Pune Shivajirao Bodkhe told IANS.
Besides, other activists across the country including Kranti, Stan Swami and Anand Teltumbde were raided in the major operation that is part of the ongoing probe into the involvement of Maoist supporters into the Bhima-Koregaon riots of 1 January this year.
In a related development, the Delhi High Court directed Maharashtra Police not to take Navlakha out of Delhi till Wednesday and keep him under house arrest till further orders.
The court directive came on a habeas corpus petition filed by Navlakha's counsel seeking to know his whereabouts. The police told the court that they had already got transit remand of the accused from a magistrate.
Scores of supporters of these activists staged noisy protests during the police raids at various locations, including in Mumbai and Thane.
The arrests also evoked condemnation from other activists and former bureaucrats who expressed shock over the raids on the homes of intellectuals and activists critical of the BJP.
They called it an attempt to strike terror among those fighting for justice for the marginalised.
The signatories to the joint statement included Admiral (retd) L Ramdas, former bureaucrat Harsh Mander, former JNU student activist Shehla Rashid Shora, journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Swami Agnivesh.
Among the angles being probed after Tuesday's crackdown are the modus operandi of the activists, their sources of finance and modes of funding of their activities, their suspected connections with like-minded groups and related issues, officials indicated.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) President Prakash Ambedkar called it an attempt by the government to "silence the masses" in the wake of the recent crackdown on the Hindu rightwing group Sanatan Sanstha.
"But now NGOs which are non-political will become more active and aggressive than they were earlier in opposing this (BJP) government in order to safeguard democracy and human rights," warned Ambedkar, the grandson of B.R. Ambedkar.
Officials described Tuesday's operations as a follow-up to similar action taken on April 17 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.
The next day, on January 1, caste riots erupted in Bhima-Koregaon which left one person dead, culminating in a Maharashtra shutdown on January 3 called by the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh of Prakash Ambedkar.
After nearly five months, Pune Police teams fanned out in around half a dozen states and raided the homes and offices of several persons who are suspected to be linked with the Elgar Conference or are considered as Maoist supporters.
The police have seized items like computers, laptops, CDs, pen-drives, 'incriminating documents' and books from them and contended that they functioned like an 'urban think tank' for Maoists.
Previously, during the April action, the Pune police had targeted rights activists like Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale (all arrested) besides raiding Harshali Potdar, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaychor and Sagar Gorke.
Those arrested were charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code.