Action sought against Maharashtra police : Raids on activists highlight lack of police accountability : CHRI

Action sought against Maharashtra police : Raids on activists highlight lack of police accountability : CHRI
Highlights

Calling the raids on Leftwing activists by police disturbing, NGO Common wealth Human Rights Initiative on Thursday said the incident highlights a lack of accountability in the police force

New Delhi: Calling the raids on Left-wing activists by police "disturbing", NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative on Thursday said the incident highlights a lack of accountability in the police force.

The Maharashtra police arrested Left-wing activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, and raided the homes of several others as part of their probe into the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave in Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune on December 31 last year.

The conclave had triggered violence between Dalits and upper caste Peshwas. Others whose premises were reportedly searched this week were Father Stan Swamy, Susan Abraham, Kranthi Tekula and Anand Teltumbde.

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has issued a statement, calling the raids "disturbing". The statement has been signed by CHRI members and former Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah and former Secretary Vineeta Rai among others.

"This is particularly disturbing, given allegations of procedural lapses by the police in the conduct of the raids and arrests.

That this comes barely a month before Police Reforms Day shows how extensive gaps still remain with regard to police accountability and upholding the law, not just enforcing it," according to the statement.

"We are concerned about the use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and sedition laws, despite courts at the highest level repeatedly pointing out their widespread abuse.

This is particularly disturbing, given allegations of procedural lapses by the police in the conduct of the raids and arrests," it said.

"That this comes barely a month before Police Reforms Day shows how extensive gaps still remain with regard to police accountability and upholding the law, not just enforcing it," it added.

‘Vicious and malafide attack’

Leading intellectuals and civil society members on Thursday demanded action against Maharashtra police for launching a "vicious and malafide attack" against human rights activists and called for an immediate end to "such political acts of vendetta".

The arrests of the five activists, in a nationwide crackdown on Tuesday, highlights the violation of all due procedures and is a mockery of the legal system, said a joint statement signed by author Arundhati Roy, lawyer Prashant Bhushan as well as activists Aruna Roy and Jignesh Mevani among others.

The statement comes a day after the Supreme Court directed that the five activists be kept under house arrest. They have also demanded that police return the laptops and mobiles seized during the "illegal arrest" of the activists.

"They want to divert attention from real issue and discredit the dalit movement. The so-called Maoist plot to Kill the prime minister is an effort to garner sympathy.

Dalits will hold protest rallies at various places on September 5 against the government," Mevani said at a press conference. "What is happening today is more dangerous than the emergency," Bhushan added.

Maharashtra police arrested Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, and raided the homes of several others as part of its probe into the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave in Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune on December 31, 2017.

Others whose premises were reportedly searched this week were Father Stan Swamy, Susan Abraham, Kranthi Tekula and Anand Teltumbde.

‘Undeclared Emergency’

Puducherry: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Thursday condemned the arrest of five Left-wing activists by the Maharashtra police, alleging that it was manifestation of an "undeclared emergency" unfolding in the country.

"In a democracy, freedom of thought, belief and expression are fundamental foundations and the Centre should not try to belittle the sacrosanct features of democracy by attempting to crush the freedom of individuals," he told reporters here.

Referring to the arrest of the activists on charges of links with Maoists, he said the action against the 'progressive' writers and thinkers would never be tolerated in a democracy.

On the Reserve Bank of India's report that over 99 per cent of demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes had returned to the banking system, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi owed an explanation to the nation for "concealing" the truth.

He claimed that the sudden announcement of demonetisation by the Prime Minister on the night of November 8, 2016 had led to 'serious consequences' and hit the economy.

Narayanasamy also hit out at the Centre for the unchecked rise in prices of petrol and diesel across the country.

The 'short-sighted' economic and fiscal policies of the BJP-led NDA government had affected the development of the country and the 'failures' would get reflected in the Parliamentary elections next year, the Chief Minister claimed.

He was speaking to media after flagging off a lorry carrying relief materials to flood-ravaged Kerala.

Narayanasamy said Rs 10 crore would be contributed to the Kerala Flood Relief Fund in the next one week.

This comprised aid from the union territory government and donation of one monthsalaries from MPs and MLAs and the government employees besides contributions from public, he said.

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