Pune police teams on Tuesday morning raided the houses of activists in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi and Faridabad and arrested five in alleged connection to a Maoist plot, PTI reported.
Activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Gautam Navlakha from Delhi, Arun Pereira and Venon Gonsalves from Mumbai have been detained by the police.
The police searched the homes of Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad and Stan Swamy in Ranchi, Varavara Rao, Kranti and Naseem in Hyderabad and Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde in Goa.
Varavara Rao was arrested today for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, his family members said. His name had come up in a letter seized by the police during searches.
Author and social activist Arundhati Roy has condemned the raids on the “homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals” and said, “They should raid those who make up lynch mobs and murder people in broad daylight. It tells us very clearly where India is headed. Murderers will be honoured and celebrated. Anybody who speaks up for justice or against Hindu majoritarianism is being made into a criminal. What is happening is absolutely perilous.”
The raids are said to be in connection with investigations on a public meeting that was organised before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
Suggestions have been given by rights activists that more raids are in the process.
The Pune Police has currently been investigating the chain of events that led to violence in Bhima Koregaon. Mobs had burnt and damaged property and vehicles. One person had died during the clashes.
Initially, Hindutva groups had been blamed for the violence. However, the state government said in March that there was no evidence against Shiv Prathishtan Hindustan leader Sambhaji Bhide who reportedly gave an inflammatory speech near the village of Bhima Koregaon days before the New Year violence.
The police investigation then focused attention in June to activists working with Dalits, Adivasis and political prisoners. They claimed that speeches made at the public meeting in Pune, called the Elgaar Parishad, actually sparked the violence.
The arrests in June 6 have been made in connection to that. Police arrested advocate Surendra Gadling, professor Shoma Sen and activist Mahesh Raut from their homes in Nagpur.
Coordinating, the police also arrested activists Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai and Rona Wilson in Delhi. These four have been accused of having Maoist links and have been charged under sections of the controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.