Upto 190 people affiliated with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, have demanded the immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, one among the five human rights activists who were arrested by the Pune Police in alleged connection with Maoists.
The statement was signed by current and former students, researchers, faculty and staff of the IIT.
Being an alumnus of the institute, the charges against her were called a “travesty of justice”, a concoction and a fabrication. There seems to be “an attempt to malign her reputation and discredit her causes”, the statement read.
“These arrests seem to be a mere sequel in an ongoing attempt to intimidate and arrest activists, eminent writers, professors, journalists, and human rights defenders around the country,” the statement said.
They also sought an independent investigation by the National Human Rights Commission.
“The charges against her appear to be totally concocted: the contradictory nature of the public statements issued by the prosecution suggests as much, as does even a cursory glance at the prime evidence in the form of a letter allegedly written by her,” the statement said. “It is also very curious that the dubious letters are entirely unaccompanied by any further evidence and were first leaked to selective media outlets, and the prosecution seems to be more prepared for a ‘media trial’ than an actual one.”
On August 28, Pune police teams earlier 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 were detained by the police.
The Supreme Court of India extended the house arrests of five human rights activists who had been arrested by the Pune Police in alleged connection with Maoists uptill September 12 on Thursday.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra took offence on Assistant Commissioner of Police of Pune’s statements and said that he was casting aspersions in court.
Justice D Y Chandrachud criticised the Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference told the government to direct its police to be more responsible when the matter is in the court. “You must ask your police officials to be more responsible. The matter is before us and we don’t want to hear from police officials that the Supreme Court is wrong,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Maharashtra government.
The Maharashtra Police defended the arrests of five human rights activists who had been arrested in alleged connection to ‘Maoist links’ before the Supreme Court of India by saying that the investigation was based on “cogent evidence”.
The defense was in response to a plea which had been filed by Romila Thapar and four others. The police accused the activists of planning to carry out violence, planned ambush against country and security forces.
“Activists not arrested because of their dissenting opinion, there is sufficient material to dispel this impression,” the Maharashtra Police said.