Mumbai: The Pune police on Tuesday conducted simultaneous countrywide raids and arrests in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1 in which Maratha groups’ objection to a commemorative event by dalits led to violent clashes that spread across Maharashtra, leading to one death.
The raids at the homes and offices of nine activists began at 6 am and went on till evening when the arrest of five were announced lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad, rights activist Gautam Navlakha from Delhi, activist Vernon Gonsalves and lawyer-activist Arun Ferreira from Mumbai.
From Hyderabad, 78-year-old revolutionary writer P. Varavara Rao was arrested. The raids and arrests, police said, were based on names that emerged during the investigation of five activists they had arrested in June in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
While Pune police termed Tuesday’s raids and arrests as a crackdown on “urban Naxals” who, they claimed were responsible for the violence, many reacted to the news with shock, describing the action as “absolutely chilling” and a “virtual declaration of emergency”.
The CPI(M) politburo called it a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties and demanded the withdrawal of the cases against the activists and their immediate release....