‘Attempt to stifle voices’? Police carry multiple raids, arrests against activists, writers across country

Mumbai/New Delhi: A comprehensive police raid across the country was launched on Tuesday wherein the forces conducted raids at the homes of several people including activists, priests, writers and lawyers.

In simultaneous operations at Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi, Goa and Hyderabad, two right activists– Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonsalves – have been arrested, according to The Wire.

Arrested activists

While Bharadwaj has panchnama state charges under Sections 153a, 505, 117 and 120 of the IPC and several other sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Gonsalves panchnama is under process and his family claimed that they don’t yet have clarity on their kin’s arrest.

As per reports, orders for Bharadwaj’s arrest were issued from Swargate police station, Pune following which police seized all of his electronic devices along with a diary with empty pages at around 5:30 AM on Tuesday. Bharadwaj had expressed concern that the apprehended belongings could be tampered with, in police custody.

Multiple raids

  • Apart from the two activists, people who faced the raids were Arun Ferreira, Susan Abraham, journalist Kranthi Tekula, Varavara Rao, Father Stan Swamy, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.
  • Additionally, it has been reported that Vara Vara Rao’s daughter Anala and son-in-law K.V. Kurmanath’s house had also been raided.
  • As per Abraham said, “Susan and Arun are defending the accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence of last January.”
  • Others who were arrested include human rights lawyer from Nagpur Surendra Gadling, Dalit rights activist and journalist Sudhir Dhawale, former Prime Minister Rural Development fellow Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and associate professor from Nagpur University Shoma Sen.
  • The raids which began on Tuesday morning are still underway.  According to reports, laptops, phones and other material were seized from some of the residences.
  • A unit of Vishrambag police station in Pune, which is investigating the Bhima Koregaon violence, is also involved with the raids.
  • There is no confirmation yet why the raids were carried out on such a scale simultaneously.

‘Attempt to stifle voices’

This is an attempt to stifle voices that talk about murders of Dalit and Adivasis in areas like Gadchiroli. There is a cooked up story that V.V. Rao was connected with an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is no truth to it. Apart from V.V. Rao, his two daughters and son-in-laws have been targeted. They do not have any connection with V.V. Rao’s politics. The Central government, Maharashtra government, aided by the Telangana government, are engaging in intimidation to stifle democratic voices.”

-Rao’s nephew Venugopal, editor of Veekshanam Telugu magazine on raids.