Mumbai: In the aftermath of the arrest of five prominent human rights and civil liberties activists and intellectuals, over a hundred people including students and civil society organisations staged a protest at Dadar on Wednesday evening. The protesters demanded the release of advocate Arun Ferreira, writer Gautam Navlakha, advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, writer-activist Varavara Rao and ex-Mumbai University lecturer and writer Vernon Gonsalves, who were arrested by Pune police on August 28.
The protesters sang and chanted slogans demanding the release of activists and arrest of Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote and right-wings activist Sambhaji Bhide. One of the participant of the protest said, “The main accused of the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1 are roaming scot free and can create further violence in the country. Why are the police not taking any action against them?”
The unjust actions of the Pune police too were met with anti-police slogans, in which the protesters questioned the base on which arrests were made.
A 21-year-college student said, “The Pune police has intelligently arrested those who have been exposing the unjust policies and actions of the government. In a bid to silence their voices, police are criminalizing and targeting them.” The collegian added, “If lynching convicts are getting bail, then why are activists sent to jail?” The protest saw a fairly good turnout of supporters, who constantly questioned the sanctity of the probe and why human rights activists were being targeted. Simon Jonas (34) said, “The plot on which arrests were made and the evidences which are produced are completely shady. Neither the police clearly proving the evidences found in the form of letters, nor the lawyers producing relatable and believable evidences. The letters, which are the epicentre of the arrest, cannot even be traced to those arrested.”
The protesters strongly condemned the arrest of activist and were of strong opinion that the Maharashtra police is undoubtedly promoting a vicious media trial against them by circulating false material as ‘evidence’ in the case, to influence public sentiment.