Bengalureans protest detention of activists

Bengalureans protest detention of activists

The People’s Lawyers Forum (PLF), a newly created non-partisan lawyers association, held a protest outside the High Court Friday against the recent arrests of five human rights activists and intellectuals. More than 50 people participated in the protest, which condemned the arrests as illegal and demanded the activists’ immediate release.

“This is an assault on anyone who raises their voice, who has a different opinion than the government, who speaks about the inequalities in this country. Anyone who raises their voice against the government is going to be targeted—that’s the message the government is trying to send out. Our whole idea today was to send a message that people are not going to be silenced,” protest organizer and Manthan Law advocate Maitreyi Krishnan told the DH.

Protesters gathered behind a banner bearing the faces of the five arrested activists, taking turns to make speeches against the arrests. Others held signs that read: “No more fake charges,” “We want justice,” and “Terms like Urban Naxals are invented to stifle any critics of the government.”

The protest was organized in response to arrests by Maharashtra Police Tuesday of Left-wing activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha as part of a probe into the 'Elgar Parishad' event held in Pune on December 31 last year. The arrests have been widely condemned by opposition leaders, intellectuals, and others. The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday observed that authorities did not follow standard operating procedure (SOP) in the arrest of the activists.

Demonstration have broken out across the country. Approximately 1,000 activists protested near Parliament in New Delhi Thursday. Other protests occurred in Mumbai, Bhilai in Chhattisgarhi (where Bharadwaj has worked with unions), and Hyderabad, where police detained nearly a dozen protesters Wednesday.

“We thought that, since there was no protest taking place in Karnataka, we should take it up,” said PLF member Sivamanithan S. Another protest under the banner “Coalition to Defend the Constitution" is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mysore Bank Circle.

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