New Delhi, Aug 28, 2018 : Congress president Rahul Gandhi has lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre over raids and arrests of activists on Tuesday. Accusing the government of jailing all activists, the Congress chief said, “Welcome to the new India”.
Attacking the government over raids conducted by police personnel across five states on the homes of various civil and human rights activists in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence, Rahul Gandhi said that there was “place for one NGO in India and it’s called RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh)”.
Taking to microblogging site Twitter, the Gandhi scion said, “There is only place for one NGO in India and it’s called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India. #BhimaKoregaon.”
Several prominent activists - P Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bhardwaj and her daughter Anu Bhardwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves - were detained by the police on Tuesday for their alleged links with Maoists.
The arrest took place after police conducted multiple raids across five states in Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana, Delhi and Jharkhand as part of the probe into the violence at Maharashtra’s Koregaon Bhima village following an event held in Pune last year.
The move was criticised by several political parties, lawyers, activists, academics and authors. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) reiterated that the police have been targeting Dalit rights activists and intellectuals after Bhima Koregaon riots.
"These constitute a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties. The CPI-M demands withdrawal of the cases against these activists and their immediate release," Senior CPI-M leader Prakash Karat said.
"The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) strongly protests the raids conducted by police authorities on the homes of various civil rights and human rights activists and Left intellectuals," the party said in a statement. "Ever since the Bhima Koregoan violence against Dalits, the Maharashtra Police along with central agencies has been targeting Dalit rights activists and lawyers who have been taking up their cases. False charges have been levelled and the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act invoked," it said.
Award-winning author Arundhati Roy too condemned the arrests of activists and called the act a ’dangerous sign of a government.’ "The arrests are a dangerous sign of a government that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into a panic. That lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals are being arrested on ludicrous charges," she said.
Noted historian Ramachandra Guha called the action "absolutely chilling" and demanded the intervention of the Supreme Court.