Pol­i­tics of Ter­ror

While BJP plans to di­vert pub­lic at­ten­tion from Dalit atroc­i­ties, op­po­si­tion is busy cash­ing in on five ar­rests in Bhima Kore­gaon in­ci­dent with­out eval­u­at­ing its pre­vi­ous stand

The Day After - - CONTENT - By Asit Manohar

When Congress Pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi crit­i­cized the Naren­dra Modi led NDA gov­ern­ment at cen­tre on arrest of five ‘NGO work­ers’, he would be think­ing that it is go­ing to make head­lines once again like his par­lia­men­tary hug de­pict­ing love for his haters. How­ever, the move turned out into a self goal as peo­ple whom he was de­fend­ing are as­so­ci­ated with the or­ga­ni­za­tions, which was put into the list of 128 Maoist Ter­ror Or­ga­ni­za­tion by the UPA-2 gov­ern­ment in 2012. Rahul Gandhi also for­got that on May 24th2010, Dr Man­mo­han Singh who led the UPA-2 gov­ern­ment, which was out of the shad­ows

of left par­ties, had said, “Nax­al­ism re­mains the big­gest in­ter­nal se­cu­rity chal­lenge fac­ing our coun­try. If we don’t, it can af­fect our growth.”

The rights ac­tivists, writ­ers and lawyers have been charged with har­bour­ing links with Com­mu­nist Party of In­dia (Maoist) — a Maoist rebel out­fit banned by In­dia in 2009. The then UPA gov­ern­ment had termed it a “ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion” and slapped Sec­tion 41 of the Un­law­ful Ac­tiv­i­ties (Pre­ven­tion) Act (UAPA) on it. So, the Congress Pres­i­dent ad­vi­sors who ac­tu­ated him to tweet his ‘Wel­come to New In­dia’ may be suf­fer­ing from am­ne­sia but not the re­spon­si­ble me­dia pro­fes­sion­als of In­dia.

The arrest of five Left-wing ac­tivists for their al­leged in­volve­ment with the Maoist in­sur­gency move­ment has cre­ated wide­spread furore in In­dia. The case lies on the in­ter­sec­tion of na­tional se­cu­rity, hu­man rights and Left­ist ide­ol­ogy of “armed strug­gle” against the state. This con­tentious sub­ject partly ex­plains the tsunami of out­rage. How­ever, the case also raises dis­turb­ing ques­tions about po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunism and some me­dia pro­fes­sion al’ s blatantly par­ti­san po­si­tion­ing.

At least four of the five left-wing ac­tivists ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the Bhima Kore­gaon vi­o­lence by the Pune Po­lice on Tues­day were linked to or­ga­ni­za­tions put un­der the scan­ner by the UPA-II regime headed by Man­mo­han Singh. Gov­ern­ment sources in­formed that in De­cem­ber 2012, the UPA gov­ern­ment wrote a mis­sive to all the states to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion against per­sons in­volved with 128 or­ga­ni­za­tions it had iden­ti­fied hav­ing deep ties with CPI (Maoist).

While the Supreme Court last fort­night or­dered that they should be kept un­der house arrest till 6 Septem­ber, ob­serv­ing that dis­sent was the safety valve of democ­racy, sources said three other ac­tivists ar­rested in June also fea­tured on the list. A to­tal of seven of those picked up since June in the Bhima Kore­gaon riot case be­longs to or­ga­ni­za­tions ap­pear­ing on the list of 128 sent by the UPA-II gov­ern­ment to the states. These names are Var­avara Rao, Ver­non Gon­za­lves, Sudha Bhard­waj, Suren­dra Gadling, Rona Wil­son, Arun Fer­reira and Ma­hesh Raut.

Rao is the pres­i­dent of Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Demo­cratic Front, Bharad­waj is gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Ch­hat­tis­garh Peo­ple’s Union for Civil Lib­er­ties (PUCL) and also the founder of Jan­hit; Fer­reira is former mem­ber of the Ma­ha­rash­tra State Com­mit­tee of CPI (Maoist), said a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cer aware of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­ing car­ried out by the Pune Po­lice in the Bhima Kore­gaon case. He also said Gadling is gen­eral sec­re­tary of the In­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Peo­ple’s Lawyers, while Wil­son is pub­lic re­la­tions sec­re­tary of Com­mit­tee for the Re­lease of Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers (CRPP).

An in­tel­li­gence note said, “CRPP has ac­tively taken up is­sues of in­car­cer­ated Maoists by equat­ing them with ‘po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers’ be­ing tar­geted for their be­lief in a par­tic­u­lar ide­ol­ogy. The so-called com­mit­tee has un­der­taken pro­pa­ganda pro­grammes for re­lease of con­victed Maoists, in­clud­ing GN Saibaba, a Delhi Univer­sity pro­fes­sor who was sen­tenced for life by the Gad­chi­roli district court last year. Another ac­cused, Gadling is a lawyer who spe­cialises in the le­gal de­fence of such Maoist pris­on­ers and is in­ter­est­ingly the le­gal coun­sel of Saibaba in the ap­peal against his con­vic­tion. His or­ga­ni­za­tion spe­cially takes up Maoist-re­lated cases and re­ceives funds from CPI (Maoist). Raut is be­lieved to be the Maoist point man for mo­bi­liz­ing trib­als in Gad­chi­roli district over the tra­di­tional Maoist is­sue of dis­place­ment due to min­ing. The role of these ac­cused in sup­port­ing and im­ple­ment­ing the Maoist agenda was known to se­cu­rity agen­cies, how­ever, the present case of Bhima Kore­gaon vi­o­lence seems to have armed the po­lice with ir­refutable ev­i­dence to seek their con­vic­tion as well as to ini­ti­ate ac­tion against sim­i­lar char­ac­ters in the ur­ban sphere.”

It will be a ma­jor chal­lenge for the Pune Po­lice to prove the al­le­ga­tions and pro­duce the ev­i­dence to sat­isfy the court. Gov­ern­ment sources claimed that the Pune Po­lice has some dig­i­tal con­ver­sa­tions and other ev­i­dence to al­legedly link all the ar­rested ac­tivists with the Bhima Kore­gaon ri­ots case. Al­though, the po­lice did not re­veal the ex­act charges against them, sources deal­ing with anti-Naxal oper­a­tion said they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the links of the Bhima Kore­gaon case with CPI (Maoist).

Con­se­quent to the Bhima Kore­gaon ri­ots on 31 De­cem­ber, 2017, an FIR was reg­is­tered on 1 Jan­uary, 2018 at Vishram­baug Po­lice Sta­tion in Pune. Sub­se­quently, the po­lice dur­ing raids had seized com­put­ers, lap­tops and mo­bile phones. Five peo­ple were ar­rested on 6 June, 2018 and gov­ern­ment sources claimed they have found ev­i­dence that the Bhima Kore­gaon ri­ots were funded by Maoists.

“The mo­bi­liza­tion and fund­ing was car­ried out through some of these ac­tivists, who have been picked up in June and on 28 Au­gust. Fer­reira and Ver­non, two of the five ar­rested on 28 Au­gust 2018 were ar­rested ear­lier by the Ma­ha­rash­tra Po­lice in 2007 and spent sev­eral years in prison. Sim­i­larly, Rao has been also been ar­rested sev­eral times by the Andhra/Te­lan­gana Po­lice in the past,” sources said.

writer P Var­avara Rao

Ac­tivist Gau­tam Navlakha

Ac­tivist Arun Fer­reira

Hu­man Rights ad­vo­cate Sudha Bharad­waj

Ac­tivist Ver­non Gon­salves

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