The arrest of several Dalit and Human Rights Activists and intellectuals in raids conducted by Pune police across several states on Tuesday, August 28 morning provoked widespread outrage in the country.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notice to the Maharashtra government even as historian Romila Thapar and others on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the arrests carried out for suspected Maoist links.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has asked the petitioner to list the matter later in the day, at 3.45 pm.
The petition by Thapar and others was mentioned for urgent hearing before a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. Besides Thapar, the other four petitioners are Prabhat Patnaik, Devaki Jain, Satish Deshpandey and Maja Daruwala.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the petitioners told the bench that extraordinary circumstances have cropped up due to the Maharashtra Police action of arresting several human rights activists.
CJI Misra initially told Singhvi to mention the matter at 1.05 PM today as the Constitution bench has assembled to hear a separate matter. Later the CJI said that an appropriate bench will assemble at 3.45 PM to hear the case.
Alongside, the NHRC issued a notice to Maharashtra government and DGP Maharashtra over the arrests of the five activists. The Maharashtra chief secretary and the director general of police have been asked to submit a ‘factual report’ in the matter within four weeks.”
On the basis of the media reports, the Commission has observed that it appears that the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights,” an official said.
Reacting to NHRC’s notice to Maharashtra over arrest of five activists, Maharashtra minister Deepak Kesarkar has said that the arrests were not politically motivated. He also said that they would give an ‘apt’ reply to the NHRC. “This is a fight for the country. Naxalism a major threat to country’s security,” Kesarkar said.
Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested, the police have said, for their involvement in Organising Elgaar Parishad earlier this year in Pune. Elgaar Parishad is an event to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Koregaon, which Dalit groups observe as a victory over the forces of the upper caste Peshwas. The raids were carried out in Delhi, Faridabad, Goa, Mumbai, Ranchi and Hyderabad.
Police had earlier arrested Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Antachi Chalwal, Surendra Gadling and Mahesh Raut for allegedly sourcing funds from banned Maoist groups to help in organising Elgaar Parishad. It also accused them of planning to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a “Rajiv Gandhi-like manner”.
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