Maharashtra govt defends arrest of Left-wing activists

The minister said Naxals were fighting a war against India, "It is not wrong to be Left wing, but it is wrong to be a Left wing extremist," he said

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Mumbai: The Maharashtra government today defended the arrest of five Left-wing activists in multi-state raids yesterday saying the action was based on “proof” about their “links with the Naxal movement”.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar said all procedures were followed before conducting the raids against the activists.

Pune Police yesterday raided homes of some prominent Left-wing activists in several states and arrested five of them poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and Chhattisgarh and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha in Delhi.

The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the Elgar Parishad event held in Pune on 31 December last year, which had allegedly triggered violence between Dalits and upper caste groups at Koregaon Bhima village in the district.

“It is due to their links with Naxal movements that they have been arrested. If there was no evidence, we would not have taken the action. We have followed the procedures before conducting raids against these Naxal activists,” Kesarkar said.

“Actions are not taken to please anyone. Unless we had proofs, we would not have conducted the raids,” he added.

The minister said Naxals were fighting a war against India. “It is not wrong to be Left-wing, but it is wrong to be a Left-wing extremist,” he said.

Kesarkar said Professor Saibaba is a classic example of the intellectuals misusing their brains against the country. The Naxal movement is banned in the country and nobody should sympathise with it, he added.

On the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) letter to the Maharashtra government seeking information about the operation, he said, “It is the government’s duty to respond to the NHRC letter. It is a routine procedure. It does not necessarily mean we are doing anything wrong.”