Indian court docket steps in on arrest of rights activists


The Supreme Court docket stated the activists ought to be stored below home arrest till its subsequent listening to on the matter, scheduled for September 6. 

Prashant Bhushan, a distinguished civil-rights lawyer who represented the activists, stated they’d been “engaged on human rights causes for the previous 20 to 25 years.”

“Dissent is the protection phrase of democracy. If you don’t enable dissent, the strain cooker will burst,” lawyer Vrinda Grover informed reporters outdoors the Supreme Court docket in New Delhi, quoting feedback made by the decide listening to the case.

Police from Pune in western Maharashtra state arrested Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao at their properties in Delhi, Faridabad and Hyderabad, respectively, on Tuesday night.

Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira had been arrested at their properties in Mumbai and Thane.

Activist Arun Ferreira speaks to the media as he is arrested by policemen in Thane, India, on Tuesday.

The 5 had been arrested for allegedly inciting caste-based violence at a rally within the state final yr.

In line with Pune police, the activists incited Dalits (the bottom Hindu caste) at a public rally on December 31, which led to violent clashes. One individual was killed.

“They’ve proven intolerance to the current political system and determined to focus on different functionaries,” stated a police spokesperson at a information convention Wednesday.

Final December, Dalit teams gathered in Pune to rejoice the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon.

The Battle of Koregaon, thought-about by Dalits as a monumental second within the struggle towards caste oppression, noticed Dalits struggle alongside the British East India Firm towards the ruler, Peshwa Baji Rao II. 

Republican Party of India members march on the streets of Mumbai on January 3 during widespread protest after the death of a young Dalit activist in Maharashtra state's Pune district.

A day after the rally, clashes broke out between Dalits and right-wing teams that opposed the celebrations.

A ‘witch hunt’

Critics have labeled the arrests a “witch hunt” towards those that problem India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Celebration.

“The individuals who have been arrested yesterday maintain accountable positions in society. Subsequently, it’s incumbent upon the federal government to place within the public area the explanations of arrest. This multi-city arrest is a witch hunt,” Manish Tewari, a spokesperson for India’s important opposition Congress get together, stated at a information convention on Wednesday.

Amnesty Worldwide India and Oxfam India issued a joint statement condemning the arrests, saying the crackdown was “disturbing and threatens core human rights values.”

“All these folks have historical past of working to guard the rights of a few of India’s most poor and marginalized folks. Their arrests elevate disturbing questions on whether or not they’re being focused for his or her activism,” stated Aakar Patel, the chief director of Amnesty Worldwide India.

Oxfam India Chief Govt Amitabh Behar stated that the arrests, “can’t turn out to be the order of the day”.

“The federal government ought to shield folks’s rights to freedom of expression, affiliation and peaceable meeting as a substitute of making an environment of concern,” he stated.

Each the Indian authorities and the Maharashtra authorities have been requested by the Supreme Court docket to answer issues within the case by the subsequent listening to.

CNN’s Swati Gupta additionally contributed to this report.

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