The Telangana Police on Saturday detained several academics protesting against the arrest of activist Varavara Rao in Hyderabad. Educationist Haragopal, Telugu poet and journalist N Venugopal, litterateur Katyayani and many others were held in Hyderabad while holding an indoor meeting, the Revolutionary Writers’ Association said in a press release. Rao headed the association.
The group said that the Telangana Police obstructed the Democratic Teachers Federation’s meeting at 10 am demanding the release of Varavara Rao and other intellectuals. It claimed that hundreds of teachers were detained. “Police even blocked the road leading to the meeting hall to stop the public,” it added.
Activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy are accused of organising the Elgaar Parishad event to mark the 200th year of the battle of Bhima Koregaon on December 31, 2017, a day before clashes erupted in the Maharashtra village between Dalits and Marathas.
The Pune Police arrested Gonsalves, Ferreira, Rao and Bharadwaj in August last year. In February, they filed a supplementary charges against the four activists and Ganapathy. The police had filed its first chargesheet in the case at a special court for Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in November. It had named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June.
“We strongly condemn this undemocratic and inhuman act of the Telanagana government,” the Revolutionary Writers’ Association said on Saturday. “It’s shameful to disrupt an indoor meeting of teachers who want to speak about the incarceration of fellow teachers like Varavara Rao, GN Saibaba, Shoma Sen and other intellectuals. It’s shameful to boast about the percentage of polling as a mark of democracy while suppressing the democratic voices simultaneously. We urge all democrats to condemn and protest against this fascist attitude of Telangana government.”
The Revolutionary Writers’ Association demanded the immediate release of the detained individuals. “We also demand that the Telangana government allow the meeting to go on peacefully.”
“Democratic Teachers Federation planned a day-long meeting today to protest the arrests of Varavara Rao and others,” Venugopal told Scroll.in. “Police forced the hall owners and blocked the road and arrested about 200 teachers. I was a scheduled speaker along with Professor Haragopal and others. All of us were arrested and are still in various police stations in the city. Right now we are holding a meeting at the police station.”
Haragopal told The News Minute that about five people were detained at the Narayanguda police station, while around 50-60 people had been taken into custody and shifted to the Ramgopalpet police station. “The Democratic Teachers Federation planned to hold a meeting and there is no need for special police permission as it was indoors,” Haragopal said. “However, we learnt that the police had told the TNGOS President not to give us the hall, where we planned to hold the event.”
Haragopal said he told a Telanagana Rashtra Samithi MP before the event, and the MP then told him he spoke to police officers. “However, when we reached the venue on Saturday morning, we found it locked up and the police told us we can’t gather there and detained everyone who had come there,” the educationist added.