August 28, 2018 witnessed raids at the houses and arrests of prominent activists and intellectuals Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad, Gautam Navlakha from New Delhi, Professor Varavara Rao from Hyderabad, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves from Mumbai and house raids of Fr. Stan Swamy in Ranchi, Anand Teltumbde in Goa, daughters of Professor Varavara – Anala and Pavana, journalist K V Kumaranath, EFLU Professor Satyanarayana, journalist Kranti Tekula and Naseem in Hyderabad and Susan Abraham in Mumbai.
Similarly, in June 2018, Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, and Rona Wilson were also arrested.
All these raids and arrests are allegedly connected to the attacks of dalits in the Bhima Koregaon violence following the Elgaar Parishad public meeting, where in fact the real culprits and main conspirators right-wing leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote are at large. However, it is clear that these attacks on rights activists is nothing but targeting them for their work for the people, for social justice and against the state’s unjust actions and policies. This is nothing but an attempt to crush voices of dissent and political opposition against the ruling party.
Colleagues, comrades, and friends in past few days have condemned, criticised these unjustified raids and arbitrary arrests and detailed the sinister agenda of the government to undermine the founding principles of Indian democracy and her Constitutional guarantees.
The government and a biased media are using intimidatory tactics and as a result, it is possible that we could get silenced, perhaps a wee bit frightened, and even “pragmatic” as “advised”. Perhaps this is the time not to be “wise” and “pragmatic” even if we sense fear as the brute, unjust, and oppressive state seeks to browbeat us.
I believe this is just the right time to speak out, continue speaking, do what needs to be done, support and join the movement against exploitation, present destructive development model, repressive state and continue doing what we do, with renewed solidarity and lessons learnt anew. We owe this simply to our ideals and the lifelong struggle for a just, equal society; to our all friends and comrades who strive for a just society; to brave people who envision and strive for justice and basic amenities for all.
The present times could be scary, in the face of threats, violence, and repression in this fascist regime. To be scared is very human but it is equally human to overcome those fears and threats and to continue being what we are, continue doing what we do and what needs to be done, now! We should resolve to continue our fight for Justice and Truth, to uphold the values of Human Rights, to stand up and speak-out for the oppressed against injustice of all kinds, unafraid of all consequences. — *Senior activist, Paryavan Suraksha Samiti, Vadodara, Gujarat