“In the ‘new’ India human rights activists will be arrested but no one wants to touch groups like Sanathan Sanstha,” says Rajdeep Sardesai
NEW DELHI — The nationwide raids at the residence of renowned human rights activists and lawyers on Tuesday and subsequent arrest of five of them have invited strong condemnations from different quarters.
The raids were conducted at the homes of nine activists and lawyers including Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Susan Abraham, Anand Teltumbde and Fr Stan Swamy in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence of December 31, 2017.
The Pune police that carried out the raids in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa arrested five of them — Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves.
The raids and arrest of activists are being strongly condemned:
Indira Jaising (senior lawyer, Supreme Court): “When all human rights Lawyers are attested for defending their clients, who will defend the accused? Precious constitutional right to legal defence taken away.”
“One day there will be no one left to defend the rule of law, one day there will be no rule of law left to defend.”
Ramachandra Guha (Historian, writer): “As a biographer of Gandhi, I have no doubt that if the Mahatma was alive today, he would don his lawyer’s robes and defend Sudha Bharadwaj in court; that is assuming the Modi Sarkar hadn’t yet detained and arrested him too.”
Arundhati Roy (Booker-prize winning author): “Why are raids taking place on the homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals and not those who make up lynch mobs?”
“It is as close to a declaration of an Emergency as we will ever get.”
“That the raids are taking place on the homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals – instead of on those who make up lynch mobs and murder people in broad daylight tells us very clearly where India is headed.”
“What is happening is absolutely perilous. It is in preparation for the coming elections. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to all come together. Otherwise we will lose every freedom that we cherish.”
Rajdeep Sardesai (Senior Journalist): “In the ‘new’ India human rights activists will be arrested but no one wants to touch groups like Sanathan Sanstha! And the country stays silent! #BhimaKoregaon”
“Reminded today of Niemoller’s poem when I see toxic terms like ‘urban Naxals’ being used by people with zero knowledge but plenty of bile. Remember friends, one day they could come for you too.”
“Must arrest anyone who plots to kill honourable PM but please do so on evidence. Nearly three months since people arrested, no chargesheet, zero evidence provided to court yet. Awaiting!”
Soutik Biswas (BBC India Correspondent): “Instead of arresting those who publicly lynch people, the police are arresting lawyers, poets and writers who fight for Dalit rights. This shows which direction India is headed: Arundhati Roy tells BBC. #BhimaKoregaon #BhimaKoregaonRaids.”
Sitaram Yechury (General Secretary, CPI-M): “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. This is a brazen attack on democratic rights & civil liberties.”
Saba Naqvi (senior Journalist): “Those who lynch are garlanded, those who make hate speech elevated to high office. But those who fight for the poor, defend human rights, arrested. #BhimaKoregaon”.