Two activists whose homes were raided on Tuesday have denied being present at the event that was followed by caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
In a statement, Anand Teltumbde, a senior professor, said his Goa house was raided in his absence in a manner as if he was a “dreaded terrorist or a criminal”. Stan Swamy, a priest and human rights activist, whose home was raided in Ranchi, said police had not yet provided him a Hindi copy of the raid documents or the First Information Report that they claimed he was named in.
Swamy and Teltumbde were among the ten activists whose houses were raided by the Pune Police on Tuesday morning across various cities. The raids were 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 police confirmed the arrests of five activists – Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, and Varavara Rao in Hyderabad.
Teltumbde, a professor at the Goa Institute of Management, was not at his home when the police arrived to search it. He said the police had threatened a security guard to get the keys, and had taken away the mobile phones of security personnel and disconnected landlines.
“The entire process is conducted as though I was a dreaded terrorist or a criminal,” he said in a statement. “The police could have enquired with me whatever they wanted to, either by sending a police official or calling me to the police station. But the entire intention is to create an atmosphere of terror and project that I had already done some dreaded crime.”
Teltumbde urged the judiciary to take note of the “monumental harassment and torture”. “I am definitely critical of the present regime but unlike many others, fault the entire post-colonial construction of the state for its rise,” Teltumbde said. He pointed out that he had written books criticising the practices of Maoists and their reliance on violence.
“I, like many other people who have been targeted by people, was not even in the conference,” Teltumbde said. “With what stretch of imagination, could I have even been suspected to have connection with these things? The entire episode is based on a letter police produced, the authenticity of which is far from established.”
Stan Swamy’s statement
Swamy, 83, who has worked on human rights issues in Jharkhand for several decades, said it was clear from the work profiles of those targeted that the cases were false and fabricated. He accused the government of “silencing the people who are working for the poor, marginalised and the voiceless”.
He said that he too has not seen the FIR in which the police claim he was named, and condemned the “blatant violation of democratic rights of social activists”. Swamy demanded that the National Human Rights Commission intervene, and that the government drops all “false cases” and release those arrested.