Meeting condemns arrest of activists

The joint coordination committee of Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill and the Left Democratic Manch, Assam, on Tuesday condemned the arrest of five social workers and activists by Maharashtra police on August 28 on "trumped-up" charges.

By ALI FAUZ HASSAN in Guwahati
  • Published 12.09.18
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The citizens’ meet in Guwahati on Tuesday. 
Picture by Ali Fauz Hassan

Guwahati: The joint coordination committee of Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill and the Left Democratic Manch, Assam, on Tuesday condemned the arrest of five social workers and activists by Maharashtra police on August 28 on "trumped-up" charges.

While Telugu poet Varavara Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were apprehended in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad and civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha in Delhi.

The raids were carried out on the night of August 28 as part of a probe into an event called Elgar Parishad on December 31 last year, which later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima in Pune district.

Forum member Harekrishna Deka slammed the BJP government and said, "Dalits of Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra organise a victory festival on December 31 and January 1 every year. In the last function, the five activists had participated. The event was neither anti-social nor anti-national. But someone filed a case three days later and more were filed later. Interestingly, action against them was taken only on the night of August 28, when the five were arrested in one fell swoop."

Deka added, "It was due to the intervention of the Supreme Court, acting on a petition by historian Romila Thapar and other intellectuals, that they were placed under house arrest. The police labelled them as 'urban Naxals'. The BJP is intolerant of any criticism and its attacks on democracy and the Constitution reminds one of the Emergency days in the 1970s."

A resolution was passed by the members condemning the incident and demanding immediate release of the five under house arrest. The BJP was criticised for "suppressing freedom of speech, attacking democracy and trying to divert attention from its failed policies".

The speakers demanded imposition of goods and services tax (GST) on petroleum products.

Forum chairman Hiren Gohain and members Udayaditya Bharali, Haidar Hussain, Hemen Das, Upen Das and Deben Bhattacharya of the CPM were present.