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There is place for only one NGO in India and it’s RSS, says Rahul Gandhi after activists’ arrests

Pune police on Tuesday carried out searches at residences of prominent lawyers and activists in five states across India in connection with their investigation into alleged Maoist links with the Elgar Parishad held in the city on December 31, 2017.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2018 13:24 IST
Police raids,activists,democratic rights
The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the violence at Maharashtra’s Koregaon-Bhima village, triggered by an event called ‘Elgar Parishad’ (conclave) held in Pune on December 31 last year.(HT File Photo)

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the government over the arrest of prominent left-wing activists for suspected Maoist links, saying that in the “new India”, there is place for only one NGO — the RSS.

“There is only place for one NGO in India and it’s called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India,” Gandhi said in a tweet with the hashtag Bhima Koregaon.

The CPI(M) also lodged its strong protest against the police raids on several civil and human rights activists and left intellectuals, and said it constituted a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties.

The CPI(M) politbureau demanded withdrawal of the cases against these activists and their immediate release, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation said the move was “reminiscent of the infamous Emergency” of the 1975.

The CPI(M-L) Liberation said the arrests and raids are an attempt to brand all dissenting voices as “anti-national” and intimidate them as the parliamentary polls draw near.

Two left-wing activists Varavara Rao and Sudha Bhardwaj were arrested today as the Pune police carried out searches at multiple places in various states on the residences of people suspected to have Maoist links, a senior police official said.

The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the violence at Maharashtra’s Koregaon-Bhima village, triggered by an event called ‘Elgar Parishad’ (conclave) held in Pune on December 31 last year.

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The CPI(M) said the raids which were carried out in Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi, Goa and Hyderabad have led to the arrests of some of the activists such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha.

The police have also taken away laptops, mobiles and other personal papers from the homes of those raided, the party said.

“Ever since the Bhima-Koregoan violence against Dalits, the Maharashtra Police along with central agencies have been targeting Dalit rights activists and lawyers who have been taking up their cases. False charges have been levelled and the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act invoked. These constitute a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties. The Polit Bureau demands the withdrawal of the cases against these activists and their immediate release,” it said in a statement.

Also read: Intellectuals condemn arrest of activists, call it ‘perilous, chilling, fascist’

The CPI(M-L) Liberation said those arrested include noted rights activist Sudha Bharadwaj who has lifelong been a lawyer and champion of the rights of the most oppressed in Chhattisgarh, as well as Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and others.

In a statement, the party said, “The attempt to project the peaceful Bhima-Koregaon event as an act of terrorism is utterly baseless and condemnable.”

The party said, “It is shocking but not surprising that under the BJP rule at the Centre and in Maharashtra, rights activists are arrested and booked on terror charges under draconian laws - while terror outfits such as Sanatan Sanstha and Shiv Pratishthan unleash violence on Dalits, plot terrorist attacks, assassinate dissenters and yet are referred to by BJP leaders including the current Prime Minister of India as ‘nationalist’.”

“We condemn the arrests and raids, and demand the release of Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Vara Vara Rao and others arrested on Tuesday.

“Under the Modi regime’s undeclared Emergency, rights activists and dissenters are either shot at, killed, or raided, arrested and jailed,” it said.

Searches were carried out at the residences of left-wing activist and poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and Chhattisgarh and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha in Delhi, the police official said, while refusing to be identified.

Earlier, Congress spokesperson Jaipal Reddy condemned the raids and arrests saying no human rights activists should be arrested without a case. “I condemn those arrests in unqualified terms. No human rights activist should be arrested. For that matter, no Indian can be arrested without proper case.

“I defend the rights of everybody, more particularly human rights protesters. They are selfless NGOs, activists, who are obliged to fight the enveloping darkness of dictatorial tendencies,” he told reporters.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 19:00 IST