Political ploy to target dissent: Activists

Political ploy to target dissent: Activists

Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha. PTI Photo

Civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha on Wednesday described the case linking him with Bhima Koregaon as a "political ploy" of the government to target dissent while another activist Anand Teltumbde said the searches at his Goa residence was conducted as though he was a "dreaded terrorist or a criminal".

Navlakha was arrested besides four others while searches were conducted at the residence of others, including Teltumbde and Stan Swamy, a Ranchi-based priest.

Swamy said police had not yet provided him with a Hindi copy of the raid documents or the FIR in which his name is claimed to be there.

"The entire case is a political ploy against political dissent by this vindictive and cowardly government, which is bent upon shielding the real culprits of Bhima Koregaon and thus divert attention from its own scams and failures which stretch from Kashmir to Kerala," Navlakha said in a statement.

"A political trial must be fought politically and I welcome this opportunity. I have to do nothing. It is for the Maharashtra police, working at the behest of their political masters, to prove their case against me, and my comrades who too have been arrested," he said adding, "now I myself will be a witness to a political trial with a ringside view."

In a statement, Teltumbde said his house was searched in his and his wife's absence and the house keys were collected by the police from the guard by threatening him.

"The entire process is conducted as though I was a dreaded terrorist or a criminal. The police could have enquired with me whatever they wanted to, either by sending a police official or calling me to the Police Station. But the entire intention is to create an atmosphere of terror and project that I had already done some dreaded crime," he said.

Teltumbde said he was not even present at the Bhima Koregaon conference, which the police cite where activists are reported to have incited violence.

"With what stretch of imagination, could I have even been suspected to have connection with these things? The entire episode is based on a letter police produced, the authenticity of which is far from established. Many people have already expressed serious doubt about its veracity," he said.

"And on this basis, the police are targeting summarily all intellectuals in the country. They are misusing the draconian law like UAPA to terrorize people into silence by targeting select intellectuals and activists. I urge the judiciary to take note of the monumental harassment and torture innocent persons like me is pushed to endure without any iota of wrongdoing on our part," he added.

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