New Delhi: A day after Pune police arrested five activists for having alleged links with Maoists, Janata Dal (United) leader Pavan K Varma on Wednesday said that if the Centre failed to produce any evidence against the imprisoned activists then the current scenario would exude a reflection of Emergency days when then prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed restriction on freedom of expression.
“Government must show that it has evidence to back up its actions against alleged activists. If evidence is not convincing then this kind of action goes directly against the supremacy of rule under constitutional democracy which allows the right to free speech and dissent,” Verma said.
“If the government is unable to produce conclusive evidence, then I am afraid actions of this nature will sound very ominously reminiscent of what happened during the Emergency,” he added.
On Tuesday, the Pune police conducted raids in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Delhi and Thane, with informed sources telling ANI that Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Gonsalves and Sudha Bhardwaj were the activists arrested for allegedly triggering violence which broke out in January during the bicentennial celebration of the battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Earlier in the day, a senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid also said that an atmosphere of imposing restrictions on ‘dissent’ is growing in India. He also asserted that the people raising their voices against the government are also being suppressed.
Echoing similar sentiments, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also said the arrest of activists is a “blatant attack on democratic rights in the country,” and that it is worse than the declaration of the Emergency.
The Bhima Koregaon violence erupted while celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in January this year. A youth died and several others, including 10 security personnel, were injured in the violence.