The Shiv Sena on Monday dismissed as “stupid” claims that “so-called Maoists” arrested by the Pune Police could potentially overthrow the government. “The government should stop stating that these so-called Maoists could potentially topple the sitting government at the Centre,” the Shiv Sena said in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana. “This is a stupid statement.”

“The government of [former Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh was overthrown by the people, not by Maoists,” the editorial said. “In recent times, governing parties have been changed through the democratic process alone.”

Addressing the allegations that Maoists plan to kill Narendra Modi, the Shiv Sena said that the prime minister’s security is robust, and there is no need to worry.

“Had these Maoists possessed power to topple governments, they would not have lost control in West Bengal, Tripura and Manipur,” the editorial added. “The police must exercise restraint while making claims, otherwise Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party will be ridiculed once again.”

Shiv Sena attacks ‘urban Naxals’

The editorial also attacked “urban Naxals”, who it claimed provide philosophical support to Maoists operating in remote areas of Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha. The Shiv Sena criticised Opposition leaders like Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and others for supporting those arrested by the Pune Police. “If these people are facing charges of plotting to kill Modi, how can anyone support them?” the party asked.

The Shiv Sena claimed that “Maoist sympathisers” take a different stand when Hindutva activists are arrested for the killing of rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Gauri Lankesh. “Having such double standards is in itself sedition,” the party alleged.

The arrests

The Maharashtra Police have claimed that the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1 was incited by Dalit rights activists, who addressed an “Elgar Parishad” event in Pune on December 31. They have maintained that this event was funded by the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

On August 28, teams of Pune Police raided the homes of several human rights activists in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa, and arrested five of them – Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad and Varavara Rao in Hyderabad. These activists are under house arrest till September 6, when the Supreme Court will hear their plea seeking a stay on their arrests.

In June, Rona Wilson, lawyer Surendra Gadling, professor Shoma Sen and activists Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale were arrested from Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi. The police labelled them “urban Maoist operatives” and claimed to have found evidence of a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.