The Congress, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and BSP chief Mayawati on Wednesday condemned the arrest of five human rights activists and lawyers by Pune police. Speaking with the media in Kochi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said certain actions by the government at the national level are undemocratic. He did not refer to the arrest of the five activists.
Stating that he will soon visit the homes of those arrested, Pawar said this seems to be an attempt to divert attention from arrests of some others allegedly involved in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. He seemed to be indicating the arrests of some Sanatan Sanstha activists in the Lankesh murder case. Pawar also said he knows some of those arrested by Pune police and asserted that they are Leftists, not Maoists.
In Kochi, Rahul said, “The Opposition is united in fighting that battle (of allegedly undemocratic government actions). There are two different visions of India. One is a centralised vision and the other is a decentralised vision. One respects only one ideology based out of Nagpur; the other respects all different states, all different ideas, all cultures, all people in this country. That fight is on.”
Addressing the media in Delhi, Congress leader Manish Tewari said Article 21 of the Constitution holds that no person can be deprived of life or liberty except in accordance with the law. He said, “People who have been arrested yesterday hold responsible positions in civil society organisations — be it PUCL or PUDR. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the government to put in public space what are the reasons as to why these arrests have taken place. Otherwise, these can only be characterised as a witch-hunt, as vendetta.”
Pawar told the media: “I have decided that, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, I will go to these people, practically everybody’s house, and discuss with the local population, their neighbours …everybody. I know some of them personally…they are activists, they are Leftists…their ideology is Left. But I have never heard that they are associated with Naxalism.”
Condemning the arrests, Mayawati called it the “height of dictatorship”. She said the BJP-led government made this move to spread terror and fear of the government among the intellectuals and activists who have been fighting against oppression of people from Dalit, tribals and backward communities after the violence at Bhima-Koregaon in January.