Lok Raj Sangathan correspondent, August 31, 2018
Some photos of the meeting called in New Delhi on 30 August 2018 to denounce the arrest of rights activists
On August 28, the Pune police launched simultaneous raids in Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi, Goa and Hyderabad, on the homes of several persons known to be working for the rights of the dispossessed, including trade union activists, lawyers, writers, poets and priests. Five well-known human rights activists have been arrested – Gautam Navlakha , Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, and Arun Ferreira – on completely concocted charges of “instigating violence” following a Dalit rally at Bhima Koregaon on 1st January 2018. They have been arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The government and certain sections of the media are carrying out a campaign of lies and disinformation, about how these activists are part of an alleged plot “to assassinate top leaders of the government”.
All the five arrested activists have been working relentlessly to expose the efforts of the state to crush the struggle of the adivasi communities, so that their land, forest and mineral resources can be seized and handed over to the big corporate houses. They are all well known for their work in defence of the rights of tribals and other marginalized sections of people and victims of state-organised caste and communal violence, army and state violence. They have been opposing and exposing all forms of state terrorism.
These arrests follow the earlier arrests on 6th June by the Pune police of the five human rights activists – Professor Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale and Surendra Gadling – under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), on similar charges.
It is a travesty of justice that those who are fighting for the rights of people are all being treated by the Indian State as “criminal”, as “anti-national” elements! These raids, arrests and campaign of lies and slanders have a diabolical aim — of terrorising the people into giving up the struggle for their rights. Creating a climate of anarchy, violence and terror has become a favourite method to divert people from their struggle for empowerment.
The arrests of the activists on trumped up charges has met with widespread condemnation and anger. Rallies and protest demonstrations have been and continue to be held throughout the country. All political forces concerned about the future of our people need to come together in this fight against state terrorism. Lok Raj Sangathan stands shoulder to shoulder with the masses of people and their organisations, in condemning this despicable act.