Skip to main content

Activists' arrest in "Mussolini’s footsteps", in reaction to Dalit groups publicly declaring BJP govt New Peshwai

Mussolini with Hitler
By Battini Rao*
Pune police under the BJP government in Maharashtra arrested five well-known left leaning intellectuals and activists under UAPA on 28thAugust. Eighty years old Varvara Rao is a famous Telegu poet. Sudha Bhardwaj is general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and a leader of Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha. Gautam Navlakha is a journalist and has been associated with the “Economic and Political Weekly” and People’s Union for Democratic Rights. Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves are lawyers.
They were arrested by Maharashtra police years ago for being associates of banned CPI (Maoist), but were acquitted by courts of all charges as there was no evidence against them. Ferreira has been an active campaigner for the rights of people detained under black laws like Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Police also raided house of Prof Satyanarana, the son in law of Varvara Rao in Hyderabad, and of Dalit scholar Prof Anand Teltumbde in Goa, and eighty year old Father Stan Swamy in Jharkhand. Police claims these arrests to be a follow up of the arrests of Prof Rona Wilson, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, civil rights activists Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut, and lawyer Surendra Gadling, on June 6.
For the time being the Supreme Court has stayed the police custody of the accused, and ordered their house arrests till September 6.
All of the people arrested have been active in public life for many decades. Their ideas, political ideology, and activities have been in public domain all these years. Pune police has accused them of being urban contacts of the CPI (Maoist), of being part of a conspiracy to spread caste violence at Bheema Koregaon gathering of Dalits in January, and of the plot to kill ‘high political functionaries’ in the style of ‘Rajiv Gandhi assassination’. These charges would be laughable, but for the sinister intent of the BJP government.
Ever since Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922, rightwing authoritarian parties have used spectacular show of strength to attack and terrorise their political and ideological opponents, and shore up popularity. Simultaneous arrests of these well known critics of the Modi government in different cities of the country are designed to produce similar public impact. As if on cue, the jingoistic media has latched onto the news and ‘Urban Naxals’ is the new label with which opponents of the regime are getting targeted.
Arrested activists
There are other reasons too why these people are under attack. The Elgar Parishad meeting organized by a number of Dalit groups on the eve of Bheema Koregaon gathering had publicly declared BJP government as the ‘New Peshwai’ for its anti-Dalit politics. This represented a new phase of anti-Caste politics, which can disturb the caste calculations behind the social engineering of RSS. In response the Modi regime has gone all out against politically active Dalits.
Cases have been filed against Gujarat Dalit rights leader Jignesh Mevani for speaking at the Elgar meeting. In Western UP Chandrasekhar has been in jail for close to two years. And, thousands of cases have been filed for protests against Supreme Court judgement diluting the law against atrocities on Dalits. Current arrests area part of the long-term strategy to prevent any association between left groups and anti-Caste Dalit politics.
It is well known that all of these five people have written, protested and fought legal cases against state violence on the most marginalized adivasis of Central India. Democracy is not only a collection of institutional practices, but is animated by a set of core ideas and values. Protection of the most vulnerable from injustice and oppression is one of these ideas. 
It is also ingrained in the Constitution via special provisions for oppressed castes and adivasis. While these people have tried to keep this essential idea of democracy alive in popular consciousness through their writings and activities, Modi regime wants to criminalise this idea and banish from public domain people who espouse it. Only then can it fully succeed in its majoritarian agenda.
Prof Satyanarayna and K Pavana, daughter of Varavara Rao, have detailed in public what they went through when police raided their house in Hyderabad. Years of scholarly work stored in laptops and hard drives were summarily confiscated. They were told why they have pictures Phule and Ambedkar but not of gods and goddesses.
Pavana was told, “Your husband is a Dalit… but you are a Brahmin, so why are you not wearing any sindoor... (and) …dressed like a traditional wife?” Clearly, police acted as casteist thugs and agent of Brahmanical Hindutva, rather than officers of a democratic state.
Many Indians have already raised their voice against the brazen misuse of state power by the Modi regime and condemned these arrests. Most of the opposition parties too have come out against this action. People of India need to be vigilant against BJP’s machinations. The very possibility of democracy in the country is at stake.
All those who were arrested on June 6 and August 28 should be immediately released, and stringent action should be taken against police officials who framed trumped up charges against the accused, and violated the right to dignity and privacy of Prof Satyanaryana and K Pavana.
---
*Convenor, People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS), Contact: battini.rao@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.