SOP not followed in arrests of activists, NHRC issues notices to Maharashtra govt, police chief

Taking a suo-moto cognisance on the basis of media reports, NHRC has asked Maharashtra chief secretary and the state police chief to submit a ‘factual report’ in the matter within four weeks

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NH Web Desk

National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) on Wednesday issued notice to Maharashtra government and state police chief over the arrest of five activists from different cities yesterday, August 28 in connection with the investigations in the Bhima Koregaon violence earlier this year.

Those arrested include lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, civil liberties activists, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Varavara Rao.

Taking a suo-moto cognisance, NHRC has asked Maharashtra chief secretary and the director general of police to submit a 'factual report' in the matter within four weeks.

“The Commission has observed that it appears, the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights,” a statement issued by NHRC read, maintaining that the notices were issued on the basis of media reports.

Previously, the Delhi High Court had stayed the transit remand for civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, observing that police have not been able to satisfactorily explain the offence, Navlakha had been arrested for.

Similarly, the decision on a transit remand for lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj is also pending before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Faridabad. The activist has told the court that she had nothing to do with the incident for which she has been arrested. According to her, the FIR did not even name her and she is being harassed and arrested only because of her ideology.

In the case of activist Gautam Navlakha, reportedly, the court questioned how Pune police managed to get a transit remand from a Delhi court without any local witness. The court has also directed translation of the police documents into English which are in vernacular language.

NHRC further observed that earlier it had received a complaint from an NGO from Geneva regarding illegal arrest of five human rights defenders namely Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut by Maharashtra police in June. In that matter also, the Commission had issued a notice to the DGP Maharashtra, calling for a report in the matter within four weeks, which is yet to be received.

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