The sweeping raids across six cities by Maharashtra Police on Tuesday morning leading to arrest of five leading activists and lawyers in connection with violence in Maharashtra's Bhima Koregaon on January 1, has drawn widespread condemnation.
Condemning the raids, Congress leader Jaipal Reddy said, “it shows dictatorial tendencies. I defend the rights or human right activists and public intellectuals. They are self less people working for the society.
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergil said, “ victimization & Raid on Human Rights Activists and “Loot Scoot & Settle Abroad” Scheme for Fraudsters is BJP version of Acche Din.”
strongly criticising the raids the RJD said, anyone who defends human rights, raises concerns about atrocities against Dalits and condemns BJP’s authoritarian regime will be raided by the fascist government.
Reacting to the raids on nine activists, writer and activist Arundhati Roy said: “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. It is as close to a declaration of an Emergency as we are going to 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. Murderers will be honoured and celebrated. Anybody who speaks up for justice or against Hindu majoritarianism is being made into a criminal,” Roy was quoted as saying by NDTV.
“As a reporter in Chhattisgarh, would get calls from Sudha Bharadwaj on cases relating to factory workers, miners, Adivasis dispossessed from their lands. She spent a lifetime fighting pro-bono for the poor and marginalised. Unbelievable she's been detained under anti-terror law,” wrote senior journalist Supriya Sharma on Twitter.
CPI(M) tweeted protesting against these raids on the human rights activists:
Several public intellectuals and activists including Shehla Rashid Shora, Mohit Pandey, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Neha Dixit, Jignesh Mevani, Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Nakul Singh Sawhney, Teesta Setalvad, Harish Iyer, Swami Agnivesh, Admiral L Ramdas, Lalita Ramdas and Nirjhari Sinha issued a joint statement condemning the arrests.
“The arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals are nothing but an attempt by the government to strike terror among those who are fighting for justice for the marginalised. This is also an attempt by the BJP to invent a false enemy and engage in scaremongering in order to polarise the 2019 elections in its favour,” the statement read, adding, “ Already, the government and the media houses close to the BJP have been trying to spin a false narrative of a Maoist conspiracy since June, 2018.”
Asserting that terms like ‘urban naxals” are invented in order to stifle any criticism of the government, the statement further claimed that “after having arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, police waited for Republic TV to arrive before taking her to the court. This simply shows that the arrests are incomplete without the accompanying sensationalist media propaganda to demonise activists, human rights defenders and intellectuals.”
“This seems like a conspiracy to divert attention from the gravity of the Sanatan Sanstha conspiracy to carry out serial bomb attacks on Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi! The same Sanatan Sanstha was also involved in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, as per the ongoing investigations by Karnataka police. Today’s arrests have been carried out in order to give cover to the murderers of Gauri Lankesh,” the statement said, adding that “people like Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and others who have been arrested are friends of the people who have dedicated their entire lives to the betterment of the Indian public. By arresting them, the BJP is only exposing its insecurities and its intolerance to any dissent or criticism of its policies.”
Describing the arrests as “politically motivated and unjustified”, the statement demanded immediate release of the arrested individuals and revocation of “false and malicious charges”.
“The arrests should be seen in continuation with the recent attacks on pro-justice voices such as Swami Agnivesh, Umar Khalid and many other student activists from Delhi to Lucknow. A BJP lawmaker from Karnataka even advocated the murder of ‘intellectuals’. Both the arrests and the physical attacks on justice loving people must be seen in a series of attempts to stifle dissent and deny social justice.”
Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh in an article titled “When human rights lawyers, activists are arrested, who will remain to defend the defenceless?” wrote : “We are going through times when lawyers who are on the front lines taking up unpopular causes are being maligned, attacked, arrested and held in prolonged detention, and/or killed. If this does not stop, one day there will be no one to defend the rule of law, since there will be no rule of law to defend.”