The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday issued notices to the chief secretary and director general of police of Maharashtra for the arrests of five activists on Tuesday in connection with the investigations into the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1. The commission has sought a report in four weeks.
On Tuesday morning, teams of the Pune Police had raided the houses of several activists in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa, in connection with investigations into a public meeting organised before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
By Tuesday evening, the joint commissioner of police, Shivaji Bodakhe, confirmed the arrests of five activists – Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad.
The commission said it was taking suo moto cognisance based on media reports as “the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights”.
The commission cited the arrest of Navlakha whose transit remand has been stayed, and that of Bharadwaj who will remain under house arrest till August 30 and not be taken to Pune till then.
The commission also said it had issued a notice to the Maharashtra Director General of Police on June 29 asking for a report within four weeks on the arrests of human rights activists Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut. The commission said it is yet to receive the report.
Maharashtra minister Deepak Kesarkar said the arrests were not politically motivated and that an apt reply would be given to the NHRC, reported News18. “This is a fight for the country,” he said. “Naxalism a major threat to country’s security.”