Vernon Gonsalves was among the activists arrested on Tuesday
Vernon Gonsalves was among the activists arrested on Tuesday

Sagar, whose father Vernon Gonsalves was arrested on Tuesday, gives a first-person account of the ordeal.

I was sleeping when a posse of policemen swooped down on our house at 6.00 am. They were 11 of them; they came with a warrant and said they had to search our house. They went through our books and there are quite a few of these tomes in our house. They took all our cell phones and kept the landline off the hook. Then, they seized our CPU hard drive and my dad’s laptop; they also took a couple of CDs. It is a small house, but they went through the articles with a tooth and comb, grabbing anything they could lay their hands on.

The books they took were perhaps deemed to be incriminating because they had names of Mao or Lenin inscribed on them. Basically, they seized any book that reeked of Naxalism. I don’t know how useful Marxist ideology is to them. The search itself didn’t take that long but after that they went about sealing the bedroom. First, they put things in a bubble wrap, then in envelopes, and then they sealed the room with wax. They said they were acting on the orders from the ACP in Pune, and it was a fallout of the Bhima-Koregaon incident. Initially, we were not shown any documents or warrant. I went through the papers but what was mentioned was very vague. None of this was ordered by the court, it was done under the special powers that the police have for searching and arresting people.

It really was quite a shock. The first five arrests itself were a huge shock and now this has happened to dad. One feels helpless because one cannot do anything, more so because none of these people have anything to do with the Bhima-Koregaon incident. Most of these people were not even present there at that point of time. Now, the latest story is that there was this plot to assassinate Prime Minister Modi by Urban Naxalites; it is all so bizarre. But you can’t do anything about it. Because you are pitted against the State machinery.

The police did not give us anything in writing as to why this was being done. In fact, around 9 am, my mother’s friend, a lawyer, demanded that we should be shown the documents. Till then they had not shown us the warrant.

Dad is strong and looking at him we both kept our cool. He does have a little problem of blood pressure but outwardly he was calm. He is a person who has already spent five years in jail and that is not a short spell. There was no compensation for the loss of those five and a half years. And, now, they are being arrested under fictitious charges. In all this, the media has made a few claims. This has added to the entire surreal, bizarre aspect. All these guys are sitting in their new rooms and making claims about people who they haven’t probably met or even interacted with. Just because they have some sort of an ideology which is different to theirs and they are being termed as enemies.

If you have ideals and they question you and your authority, then you will be arrested. It is all very fast for me to grasp. Now, it is staring in my face. Any form of freedom of expression and dissent is only tokenism. It doesn’t scare me; on the contrary, if anything, I draw strength from my parents. But I am also in the dark as to what I can possibly do.

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