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‘No thing as urban Naxalism, they’re Left-wing intellectuals’: Chidambaram

The senior Congress leader, who was in Nagpur on Saturday, said that he did not agree with that term (Urban Naxalite) and would answer the question only when it was replaced.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2018 00:08 IST
Pradip Maitra
Pradip Maitra
Hindustan Times, Nagpur
P Chidambaram,Bheema-Koregaon,Varavara Rao
Former Union minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi.(Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

The former union home minister P Chidambaram on Saturday asserted that there no such thing as “urban Naxalism” and condemned the recent arrests of five activists for involvement in January’s Bheema-Koregaon related violence in Maharashtra.

The senior Congress leader, who was in Nagpur on Saturday, said that he did not agree with that term (Urban Naxalite) and would answer the question only when it was replaced. The 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.

“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,” he said. He added that “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 hailed the SC order that said civil rights activism was safety valve of democracy. All those arrested are intellectuals, poet and rights activists, he said.

When reminded that some of the same people, were earlier arrested by the then UPA governments too, Chidambaram replied that he was not aware of what charges the then Maharashtra government had made the arrests. “I was not home minister then,” he pointed out but said “if they were arrested for their Leftist views and activities” it was wrong then, and it is wrong now.”

First Published: Sep 02, 2018 00:08 IST