The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Tuesday termed the arrests of activists and Left intellectuals over their alleged Maoist links a “brazen attack” on "democratic rights and civil liberties" and demanded their immediate release.
“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 constitutes a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties,” the CPI-M said in a press release.
The strong reaction from the CPI-M came after the Maharashtra police on Tuesday conducted raids at the residences of several activists and arrested them in connection with the Bhima Koregoan violence that broke out on January 1.
The police arrested five activists, including Varvara Rao, Arun Pereira, Gautam Navlakha, Varnan Gonsalves and Sudha Bhardwaj, for their alleged Maoist links.
They all have been booked under sections 153 A, 505(1) B,117,120 B,13,16,18,20,38,39,40 and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), according to news agency ANI.
The Maharashtra police claims that the speeches made during the Elgaar Parishad event held on December 31, 2017, had triggered the violence that broke out on January 1 during the celebrations of the two-hundredth anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in 1818.
This was the second such operations in the last three months. Earlier in June, the Pune police had carried out similar searches and arrested five “urban Maoist operatives” from Delhi, Mumbai and Nagpur.
While producing them before a court, the police had claimed to have recovered a letter mentioning a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the lines of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The letter allegedly mentioned the name of Varvara Rao.