June 6, 2018
Calling the arrests in a case related to the Bhima Koregaon violence a direct assault on civil liberties, over 35 civil rights organisations protested against the police action in New Delhi.
Following the arrest of five activists from across three cities in a case related to the Bhima Koregaon violence earlier this year, over 35 civil rights organisations protested against the police action in the capital.
Prominent lawyer at the Nagpur high court Surendra Gadling; Shoma Sen, professor of English at Nagpur University; Sudhir Dhawale, Marathi poet and editor of Mumbai-based Vidrohi magazine; New Delhi-based Rona Wilson of a civil rights group called the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP); and Mahesh Raut, an anti-displacement activist who has been recently supporting the people’s movement against indiscriminate mining in Surjagarh, Gadchiroli (Maharashtra), were arrested on June 6 in different cities as part of a joint police operation spearheaded by the Pune police.
The police has claimed that the arrested people are “urban Naxals” and that Maoists were behind the Bhima Koregaon agitation in which one Dalit youth was killed and thousands were injured. The event had seen large participation of Dalit ideologues and civil rights activists.
However, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), which led the Thursday protests, alleged that the joint police action against the five people was a direct assault on civil liberties and was intended to deflect attention from the cases against the two main accused – well-known Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote – in the case.
Speaking for the IAPL at a press conference, advocate Sudha Bharadwaj said, “Gadling, who is the general secretary of the IAPL, has experience of over 25 years in the field of criminal and civil litigation in the lower courts and high court of Maharashtra. He has been representing the most oppressed and marginalised in courts. He has been fighting the cases of people victimised in Khairlanji’s anti-Dalit violence, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar police firing case and the Manorama Kamble murder case. Most recently, he was also representing Delhi university professor G.N. Saibaba (who was arrested for his alleged links with Maoists).”
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