Activists address a press conference in New Delhi on 30 August 2018 to demand release of five noted human rights activists. Photo Caravan Daily

Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI: Unleashing strong attack on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of the arrest of five eminent human rights activists, noted award-winning writer Arundhati Roy on Thursday said that the nationwide raids and arrest of the activists were “to divert attention of people from the reasons of falling popularity of the ruling BJP and PM Modi.”

Addressing a press conference, she warned that there would be spate in violence in coming weeks and months till the elections because, she said, BJP and Modi are losing popularity.

The press conference was called at the Press Club of India to denounce the arrest of activists — Lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, journalist-academician Gautam Navlakha, writer Arun Ferreira, poet Varavara Raoand and activist Vernon Gonsalves.

Reading out from her written statement, Arundhati Roy said: “Recent analyses of real voter data as well as the Lokniti-CSDS-ABP Mood of the Nation survey have shown that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are losing popularity at an alarming rate for them. We know that since 2002 riots of Gujarat, whenever popularity and power of the ruling party (BJP) goes down, a dangerous situation is created and riots occur.”

“From now to the elections, it will be a continuous circus of arrests, assassinations, lynching, bomb attacks, riots and pogroms. We have learnt to connect the approach of the elections with the approach of all kinds of violence,” she said.

Arrest of Activists Condemned, Withdrawal of FIR Demanded

Roy said that the arrests are “ruthless and continuous attempt to divert attention from the reasons for this loss of popularity and fracture the growing solidarity of the opposition.”

Some other eminent figures like Prashant Bhushan, Aruna Roy, Kavita Srivastava, Kalyani Menon, Adv. Sanjay Parikh, ND Pancholi, Wilson Bezwada and Harish Dhawan also spoke on the occasion and condemned the arrest of the activists.

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said: “Before arrests of activists, a campaign was run by media and a new term was coined that these activists are Urban Naxals. It means you are labeling as Naxals those who are fighting for the rights of oppressed Dalits, Tribals and minorities in order to arrest them. And what is this Urban Naxal? These activists have been working for human rights for 25 years.”

He said: “Today, the Constitution, democracy everything is in danger and we all need to stand up to save them.”

Former civil servant Aruna Roy, while condemning the arrests, said: “They wanted to scare the people. This is a question of people’s democratic and constitutional rights.”

Kalyani Menon said: “It is an irony that those who are working for constitution and propagating it are being called enemy of the country. Those who are against any violence and terrorism are being arrested under anti-terror laws. These are those activists who raise voices against the violence by armed forces and are fighting the cases of innocents, fake encounters, lynchings.”

Activist Wilson Bezwada said: “This is state terror. Human Rights activists are being arrested and no action against those who burn the copy of constitution in national capital.”

Gujarat MLA and activist Jignesh Mevani, while addressing the press, said: “These arrests show a combination of undeclared emergency, fascism and Gujarat Model. This is their attempt to terrorise those who really want to make this country a socialist democratic nation and are a threat against Sangh Parivar in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. By such attempts they want to discredit Dalit movements by putting a stamp of Naxalite on them.”

He said that the whole conspiracy seems to have been hatched by BJP for 2019 elections. He alleged that the ‘Modi murder plot’ was designed by Maharashtra police only to gain sympathy for Modi before 2019 elections. “This is the same model we saw in Gujarat when any so-called Jihadi terrorist used to come to kill him,” said Mevani.

In a joint statement, the activists demanded:

— Immediate and unconditional withdrawal of FIR against the five arrested activists

— Return of their belongings such as laptops, mobile phones etc. seized during the illegal arrest and search operations

— Appropriate action against Maharashtra Police for launching a vicious and malafide attack against activists

— Withdrawal of all cases under UAPA


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