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India: Rights activists and intellectuals under assault - police raids and arrests - links to reports and statements by concerned citizens & groups

Tuesday 28 August 2018, by siawi3


India: Rights activists and intellectuals under assault - police raids and arrests - links to reports and statements by concerned citizens & groups

28 August - 28 August 2018


Police Raid Homes Of Human Rights Lawyers, Activists Across The Country

assaults on activists: ‘This is absolutely chilling’: Ram Guha, Arundhati Roy and others react to activists’ arrests

In raids in six States, police arrest five activists, including poet Varavara Rao

Activists’ arrest: It’s a more serious situation in country than Emergency, says Arundhati Roy

Why Are So Many ’Urban Maoists’ Surfacing All of a Sudden? by Nandini Sundar

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Joint Statement condemning arrest of activists and public intellectuals

We, the undersigned, are shocked by the serial raids across the country on the homes of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre. The arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Kranthi Tekula and others, 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. 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. Terms like “urban naxals” are invented in order to stifle any criticism of the government. We have learnt that the Delhi Police, after having arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, 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.

The so-called raids carried out on the houses of these activists are aimed at creating a spectacle, as the writings and views of these intellectuals are already publicly known and are well documented. 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. 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.

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.

We demand immediate release of the arrested individuals, dropping of all false and malicious charges, as these arrests are politically motivated and unjustified.

Shehla Rashid Shora, former Vice-President, JNU Students’ Union.
Mohit Pandey, former President, JNU Students’ Union.
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Author, Journalist, Publisher.
Neha Dixit, Journalist.
Jignesh Mevani, MLA Vadgam, Gujarat.
Sanam Sutirath Wazir, Human Rights Activist.
Nakul Singh Sawhney, Documentary Filmmaker.
Teesta Setalvad, Journalist and Social Activist.
Harish Iyer, Equal Rights Activist.
Swami Agnivesh, Arya Samaj, Social Activist.
Admiral L Ramdas
Lalita Ramdas
Shabnam Hashmi
Mirza Saaib Bég, lawyer, former President, NALSAR Student Bar Council
Kamal shukla, Chattisgarh
Hussain Indorewala, Mumbai
Shinzani Jain, Student, Ambedkar University Delhi
Geeta Seshu, Independent Journalist, Mumbai
Sandeep Vaidya, Dublin, Ireland
Dolphy D’souza, Police Reforms Watch

[To sign go here: ]

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28 August,2018

Statement from the Indian Cultural Forum

“We stand in solidarity with all those who speak for our fellow citizens’ rights.”

In a dangerous move for Indian democracy, several human rights activists have been taken into police custody.

Who are some of these alleged “conspirators” who have either been taken into custody or had their homes searched? Sudha Bhardwaj is an advocate and the national secretary for People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). Father Stan Swamy is an active campaigner against communalism in Jharkhand. Arun Ferreira is an activist who has also written on issues such as casteism, communalism and economic inequality. Varavara Rao is a Marxist writer and teacher of Telugu literature. Gautam Navlakha is a civil rights activist, journalist and writer. Anand Teltumbde is a respected writer, civil rights activist and political analyst. K. Sathyanarayana is a professor a dalit studies scholar.

Their crimes? Insisting on human rights, writing, analysing, teaching, giving voice to dissent against injustice and inequality.

This too at a time when the investigation into the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar has revealed bombs, guns, camps for arms training, hit lists and plans for what can rightly be called “criminal conspiracy” to use violence to kill, crush diversity and dissent, undo the Constitution, and the India it promises all of us.

We condemn this attempt to distract the public from this real conspiracy with a fabricated one. We condemn the crushing of dissent. We stand in solidarity with all those who speak for our fellow citizens’ rights.

For the Indian Cultural Forum

Nayantara Sahgal
Romila Thapar
Arundhati Roy
K. Satchidanandan
Githa Hariharan
Keki Daruwalla
Bezwada Wilson
Ganesh Devy
Mallika Sarabhai
T M Krishna
Vijay Prashad
Om Thanvi
Rahamath Tarikere
Gauhar Raza
Sridala Swami
E V Ramakrishnan
K Srilata
Vidya Rao
Susmit Panda
Souradeep Roy
Sneha Chowdhury
Ananya Vajpeyi
Kalpana Karunakaran
Paul Zacharia
Mangalesh Dabral

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Statement from Human Rights Forum (HRF)

Press Release



The Human Rights Forum (HRF) unequivocally condemns the arrests of social activists and leftist intellectuals including Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao and several others by the Pune police today. The arrests are part of a clear design to lock down on democratic dissent, undermine free speech and create a climate of fear. This is quite alarming.
These arrests as well as the raids on the homes of a total of nine persons in Delhi, Ranchi, Bombay and Hyderabad are plainly intended to persecute dissenters and those critiquing rights violations by governments. They are based on utterly vague and numerous flimsy and sweeping accusations. According to information available, the highly undemocratic legislation - the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 is being invoked against those arrested. The UAPA is a draconian statute that is in open contempt of fundamental political freedoms and should not have any place in a civilised society. It affords free rein to the police to target and harass virtually anyone they wish to. It allows presumption of guilt, and alleged ‘intention’ to commit crimes to become the basis of arrests, incarceration, and prolonged denial of bail.

These raids and arrests are part of a concerted onslaught by the State to clamp down on politics that is inconvenient to the ruling dispensation.
Slapping the label Maoist has become the routine option for the State to crack down on dissent. The ‘discovery’ of incriminating Maoist literature/letters is of a piece with this dubious strategy.

The real intent is to criminalise the democratic activity of these activists, harass them and ensure their extended incarceration. We demand the immediate dropping of the spurious charges against all those arrested and their unconditional release.

S Jeevan Kumar (HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee member)
VS Krishna (HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee member)

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Amnesty International India

Bangalore/Delhi: 28 August 2018 7:05 pm

Crackdown On Activists Cannot Become The Order Of The Day

The nationwide crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders is disturbing and threatens core human rights values, Amnesty International India and Oxfam India today said jointly in response to the massive crackdown on rights activists in the country by the Maharashtra state police.

“Today’s arrests is the second of such crackdowns on rights activists, advocates and journalists who have been critical of the state. All these people have history of working to protect the rights of some of India’s most poor and marginalized people. Their arrests raise disturbing questions about whether they are being targeted for their activism,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.

“These arrests cannot become the order of the day. The government should protect people’s rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly instead of creating an atmosphere of fear,” said Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India.

According to media reports, the Maharashtra state police have arrested Chhattisgarh-based human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Maharashtra-based social activist Vernon Gonsalves, former secretary of People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) Gautam Navlakha, Maharashtra-based activist Arun Ferreira, and Telangana journalist Varavara Rao. The premises of several other activists like Anand Tetlumbde and Father Stan Swamy were also raided.

In June this year, five activists were arrested on the suspicion of inciting caste-based violence on 1 January in Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra. Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut were arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and several sections of the Indian Penal Code.

For more information please contact:

Smriti Singh
Email: smriti.singh[at]
Phone: 080 493 88 000

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NTUI Statement

Immediately Stop the Unlawful Arrest of Trade Unionists and Human Rights Defenders 28 August 2018: The New Trade Union Initiative condemns the arbitrary raiding of residences of human rights activists and their arrest in a parallel operation across the country by the Maharashtra police. The Pune police has raided the residences of human rights defenders and trade union activists in Ranchi, Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and Hyderabad and arrested Comrade Sudha Bharadwaj from her Delhi residence and confiscated her phone, computer and other electronic devices, books, periodicals. The raids and arrests are all connected to Case number 4/18 registered by Vishrambaug police station in Pune linking them to the Bhima Koregaon incident.

Comrade Sudha Bharadwaj, advocate and leader of the Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh and Jan Aadharit Engineering Mazdoor Union, have been arrested from her Delhi residence this morning for her alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon incident under sections 153(a), 505 (1)(b), 117, 120(b), 34 of the IPC and sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18(b), 19, 20, 38, 39, 40 of the UAPA. Sudha has been under attack recently as part of an ongoing campaign both in government and through regressive forces in civil society to create an atmosphere of fear amongst those speaking up and standing against the attack on democracy, justice and equality.

This is the second round of arrests that the government has conducted in connection to the Bhima Koregaon attacks of human rights defenders. In the first round the Pune police had arrested 5 activists. None of these activists have been given bail. While on the other hand, leaders of two right-wing organisations identified as the prime provocateurs of the original attack on the dalits, Manohar aka Shambhaji Bhide or ‘Bhide Gurji’ of the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan and Milind Ekbote of the Hindu Ekta (Aaghadi) Manch, though were booked by the Pune Police for inciting violence and under provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act, have been released on bail.

The definitive politicisation of Dalits against the Hindutva agenda of the BJP and its allies, particularly after the Una violence in Gujarat, has been a cause of serious concern for the BJP government at the centre which is preparing for election. This concerted attack against all democratic and progressive forces shows that the BJP government at the centre is nervous and is lashing out at all voices of dissent.

The NTUI joins with all progressive forces in fighting this attack as it stands in solidarity with Comrade Sudha Bharadwaj and the members of the Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh and Jan Aadharit Engineering Mazdoor Union who continue to face the gravest attack on their rights and workers and citizens.

This is our common fight and a fight we must win.

N Vasudevan

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
B-137, First Floor, Dayanand Colony,
Lajpat Nagar IV,
New Delhi 110024
Telephone: +91 11 26214538
Telephone/ Fax: +91 11 26486931
Email: secretariat[at]