Opposition political parties and leaders on Tuesday condemned the raids and arrests of rights activists. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “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”
“Ever since the Bhima Koregoan violence against Dalits, Maharashtra Police, along with central agencies, have 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. These constitute a brazen attack on democratic rights and civil liberties,” the CPI(M) said in a statement.
Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari told The Indian Express, “Under Article 21 of the Constitution, no one can be deprived on life or liberty, except according to procedure established by law. And if at all certain people have been arrested, the government should transparently disclose what is the alleged offence they committed.”
In Kolkata, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “We demand that police stop harassing activists and arrest the actual culprits who were involved in the incident (Bhima Koregaon clashes). Television footage of the incident clearly shows those involved in the attack. Why are police arresting the protesters?”
CPI leader D Raja said, “These arrests have raised several questions about the motive of the government because there is a sinister design of intimidating activists who question the government, those who are critical of the government, and those who express dissent…. It also shows hypocrisy of the government. On one side, they try to appropriate Ambedkar…(but) is this the way?”
In a statement, CPI(ML) Liberation said : “…the arrests and raids are an attempt to brand all dissenting voices as ‘anti-national’ and intimidate them as Parliamentary polls draw nearer. We condemn the arrests and raids, and demand release of Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and others arrested today.”