Attempt to silence dissenting voices: Romila Thapar

Attempt to silence dissenting voices: Romila Thapar

Delhi Police personnel stand on duty as activists from various organisations stage a protest pertaining to the arrest of five activists, in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon protests, in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

Five eminent persons led by historian Romila Thapar on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court, contending arrests of well-known people by the Maharashtra police in Bhima Koregaon violence was an attempt to silence the dissenting voices and intimidate human rights activists across the country.

The petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan sought the immediate release of these activists and a comprehensive enquiry into the arrests.

“The use of draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against these peace-loving activists who have no history of indulging in any violence is clearly malafide and an attempt to browbeat them and other similar people,” their petition stated.

The petition contended that the persecution of political and ideological opponents through abuse and use of an untenable process of law runs contrary to the core tenet of Rule of Law.

The petitioners including economists Devaki Jain and Prabhat Patnaik, sociologist and Delhi University teacher Satish Deshpande and activist Maja Daruwala also claimed the Pune police resorted to systemic strategy in the case of Bhima Koregaon violence to put out highly provocative but unsubstantiated, unverified and unproven allegations to prejudice the public opinion against those arrested.

They questioned the arrest of human rights activist Gautam Navlakha and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves on Tuesday, saying none of them were present at Elgar Parishad organised on December 31, 2017, a day before the violence in Bhima Koregaon.

The petitioners said the police had in June 2018 had also arrested Prof Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut on the ground that they had organised the Elgar Parishad but two retired judges Justice P B Sawant, former SC judge and Justice Kolse Patil, former Bombay HC judge they were behind organising the event.

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