The Supreme Court directs all five activists to be kept under house arrest till September 6. The court is hearing the petition of Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and others against the arrest of activists Sudha Bhardwaj and activist Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon matter. They will be placed under house arrest till the next hearing on September 6.
Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira who were in police custody in Pune will be placed under house arrest, while Sudha Bhardwaj and Gautam Navlakha are already under house arrest in Faridabad and New Delhi.
The Supreme Court observed, ‘dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If dissent is not allowed then the pressure cooker may burst’. Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for one of the petitioners says, “the arrest was done randomly, and is illegal and arbitrary”.
A day after the pan India crackdown on Left-wing activists, the action shifted to the courts today with the Supreme Court giving urgent hearing to a plea against the arrests in the afternoon and three of the five who were nabbed to be produced before a Pune court.
The National Human Rights Commission stepped into the growing controversy over the arrests of Rao, Gonsalves, Ferreira, Bharadwaj and Navlakha, saying “it appears” that standard operating procedure was not properly followed and this may amount to a violation of their human rights. It issued notices to the Maharashtra government and the state’s police chief and for a ‘factual report’ in the matter within four weeks. Telugu poet Rao and activists Gonsalves and Ferreira were taken to Pune late last night.
The other two arrested for their suspected links with Maoists were trade unionist and lawyer Bharadwaj in Faridabad and civil liberties activist Navlakha in Delhi. Navlakha and Bharadwaj are confined to their homes, under the guard of police officers, and allowed to meet only their lawyers. Eminent historian Romila Thapar and four others have moved the apex court against the arrests by the Maharashtra Police.