Activists’ arrested to divert attention from Sanatan Sanstha: Prakash Ambedkar
Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar said on Wednesday the arrest of five prominent activists and human rights lawyers for their alleged Maoists links was an attempt by Maharashtra police to deflect attention from the various cases involving the members of right-wing Sanatan Sanstha.
Ambedkar, the president of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, said the state police have found the role of Sanatan Sanstha in more “sinister” things such as the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in August 2013.
“However to distract attention from its probe, police are trying to go after genuine activists,” he said.
Lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, revolutionary poet P Varavara Rao, civil rights activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers and activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested by Pune Police on Tuesday.
They were charged with criminal conspiracy, creating fear and enmity between various groups, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The arrests were part of an investigation into the violence that rocked Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra on January 1 during the bicentennial celebration of a British-era war.
“The latest move by the government will turn counter-productive in the Lok Sabha elections. The government is already losing sympathy and these arrests will further dent its image,” Ambedkar said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation recently arrested Sachin Andure for his alleged involvement in Dabholkar’s murder. The probe agency has said Andure was an active member of Sanatan Sanstha. Maharashtra police’s anti-terrorism squad arrested five alleged members of Sanatan Sanstha earlier this month from Nalla Sopara, Pune and Jalna in connection with an arms case.
While the Sanstha has disassociated itself with all the five men, police say they are linked to the rightwing outfit.