On Tuesday, five activists were arrested after sweeping multi-city raids across in Delhi, Faridabad, Goa, Mumbai, Ranchi and Hyderabad as part of the probe into the violence at Maharashtra’s Koregaon Bhima village following an event held in Pune in 2017.
All search warrants and detentions were carried out under anti-terror UAPA law and IPC sections 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120(b) and 34.
All those arrested were accused of links to Maoists accused of a role in the clashes between Dalits and upper caste Marathas at Maharashtra’s Bhima-Koregaon village near Pune during an annual celebration on December 31.
The crackdown has been criticised by opposition parties, including the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which termed the arrests as “motivated.” Congress President Rahul Gandhi also questioned the arrests and raids in a tweet posted on Tuesday night.
What was Bhima Koregaon Violence?
Protests and violence gripped Maharashtra on 1 January 2018, after activists, some carrying saffron flags, attacked people gathered at Bhima Koregaon. One person died in the violence, many others were injured and over 40 vehicles were damaged.
Dalits from all walks of life were in Bhima Koregaon, about 40 kms from Pune city, to commemorate a 200-year-old battle in which the Dalit-dominated British army defeated Peshwas in Maharashtra.
The agitation that followed the violence led to local train services in parts of Mumbai being shut down. Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis has assured an inquiry into the violence and the death.
Who have been detained now following the police raids and why?
Here are the brief profiles of the five Left-wing activists arrested by Maharashtra Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
Maoist sympathiser and writer Varavara Rao has been detained in Hyderabad under UAPA or Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Rao is one of the founders of Virasam, the popular acronym for Viplava Rachayitala Sangam (Revolutionary Writers’ Association). The association is infamous for supporting and propagating Naxal ideology.
Sudha Bharadwaj has been detained under UAPA, whose letter to one comrade Prakash was exposed by Republic TV on July 4. The accessed letter allegedly established a link between urban Naxals and Kashmiri separatists. Sudha Bharadwaj, who is living in Chhattisgarh for 29 years now is a representative of multiple organisations, including Jagdalpur Legal Aid and Bastar Solidarity Network.
Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha has been put under house arrest in Delhi under anti-terror act. Navlakha, who had in past in Kashmir, was currently focussing his area of work in Chhattisgarh, whose large parts are under Maoists’ influence.
Vernon Gonsalves has been detained in Mumbai. In past, too, he had spent time in jail for his alleged links with banned Maoist groups. He was picked up by Maharashtra ATS on August 19, 2007, on charges of having Naxal links and for possessing explosives.
Arun Ferreira was detained in Mumbai. He is a human rights activist, who has been accused of having alleged links with Maoists. He was also the lawyer of Sudhir Dhawale and had accused the Pune police of fabricating papers to link Bhima-Koregaon incident with Maoists.
What is UAPA
The UAPA, introduced in 1967 to “safeguard India’s integrity and sovereignty”, authorizes raids and arrests without warrants if a person is suspected to “support terrorist acts or unlawful activities”. Any official can seize material during such raids. The accused cannot apply for bail and the police have 180 days to file a chargesheet, instead of 90. In June, five other rights activists were arrested under the same law.
A particularly controversial part of the law is that members of organisations that the government believes are “unlawful associations, terrorist gangs or terrorist organisations”, can be arrested.
Source- RepublicWorld.com, NDTV, ZeeNews
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