The simultaneous raids by the Pune Police on Tuesday in several cities of the country are now becoming the issue of a big controversy. In this raid, raids were conducted on the homes of 9 people and five of them social police, human rights activists, journalists and lawyers have been detained by the police.
Human rights activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha has been arrested from Delhi, human rights advocate Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad, social activists Vernon Gonzalvis and Arun Parera from Mumbai and Kavi Varvara Rao have been arrested from Hyderabad. Apart from these people, police have also raided the houses of Ranchi social activist Father Stan Swamy, Kranti Tekula and Goa’s Dalit thinker Anand Teltumbde.
Who are these people?
Telugu poet Varavara Rao has been writing poems since 1957. Rao, the founding member of Veerasam (Revolutionary Writers Organization), was arrested in October 1973 under the Internal Security Maintenance Act (MISA). He was arrested and released again several times between 1975 and 1986 in many different cases, including the 1986 Ramnagar conspiracy case. In 2003, Rao was acquitted in the Ramnagar conspiracy case. Rao was also arrested on 19 August 2005 under the Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act. But on March 31, 2006, the case, which was run under the Public Safety Act, was dismissed. Rao got bail in all other cases as well.
A lawyer and civil rights activist living in Mumbai, Perera has been active in public movements since his college days. In 2007, he was arrested for being associated with the propaganda and communications wing of the banned CPI (Maoist). There was also an allegation against him that he was conspiring to detonate at ‘Deeksha Bhoomi’ (where Bhim Rao Ambedkar adopted Buddhism) in Nagpur. In 2014, he was acquitted of all these charges.
In his book ‘Colors of the Cage: A Prison Memoir’, Perera has written about five years spent in jail. This book has been translated into many languages. Perera is also the advocate for the five people who were arrested three months ago by the Pune police in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
57-year-old Sudha is known for her work in Chhattisgarh. She has lived there for 29 years and has fought for the rights of mining workers in Bhilai as a member of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha of the late Shankar Guha Niyogi. While being a student of IIT Kanpur, Sudha Bhardwaj closely observed the condition of workers in West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. After this, he started working with the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha in 1986. Civil rights activist and lawyer Sudha has also been fighting a battle against land acquisition. She is currently the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
Varnen, a gold medalist from Mumbai University, has been teaching in various colleges of Mumbai for a long time. In 2007, he was accused of being a former secretary of the Maharashtra State Committee of Naxalites and a former member of the Central Committee. He was charged in around 20 cases, out of which he has been acquitted in 19 cases. A case is still pending against him. During the hearing of all these cases, Vernon remained in jail for about six years. Vernon’s wife Suzanne Abraham is also an active activist and advocate. Surendra Gadling, one of the five arrested in June, is appearing in the court of Surendra Gadling.
Navlakha is a journalist and human rights activist based in Delhi. He has been associated with the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and for a long time has been an advisory editor of the prestigious magazine ‘Economic and Political Weekly’. Gautam is known for taking up human rights matters in Kashmir and Chhattisgarh. He along with Sudha Bhardwaj demanded the repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967. He says that this law is being misused extensively.
Engineer, MBA and former CEO Anand is a professor at the ‘Goa Institute of Management’. He is also known as a Dalit thinker. Anand, a PhD in cybernetics from Mumbai University, has also written books on several mass movements.
Father Stan Swamy
Human rights activist Father Stan Swamy has founded the ‘Anti-Displacement Public Development Movement’ which has been raising issues of rights of tribals and Dalits. Swami was among the 20 people against whom a case of treason was filed in July last year. He was accused of making statements and promoting tension against the Jharkhand government during the Pathalgadi movement.