August 30 :Noted historian Romila Thapar, who is one of the five intellectuals who have filed petitions in the Supreme Court against the arrest of five human rights activists by Pune police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, said that an environment of fear is prevailing in the country and the situation in the country under the current ruling dispensation is more dangerous than it was at the time of the Emergency in the mid-1970s.
Following the arrests of civil rights activists and lawyers on Tuesday, writer Arundhati Roy said, “The events that are unfolding are being fuelled by an intent to do away with democracy and turn this country into a Hindu state,” Roy said.
“This time, it is the state itself that is unleashing a law and order problem on minorities, on Dalits, Christians, Muslims and Leftists and anyone else who disagrees through its proxies in the media, its murderous vigilantes and hate-speech vendors,” Roy added.
The arrest of five rights activists by the Maharashtra Police on alleged Maoist links is aimed at silencing dissent and instilling fear in the minds of the people, noted historian Romila Thapar and four other academicians told the Supreme Court.
The petition filed by the five intellectuals alleged that the Pune police action was the “biggest attack” on freedom and liberty of citizens by resorting to high-handedness without any credible evidence.
It also alleged that no action was taken against right-wing workers, against whom FIRs were lodged as they “were behind” the Koregaon-Bhima violence.
While observing that the dissent was the “safety valve” of democracy, the apex court today kept the five human rights activists arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case under house arrest at their homes till September 6.
The activists arrested are Sudha Bharadwaj, a civil rights activist and labour lawyer from Chattisgarh, presently teaching at the National Law University, Delhi, Gautam Navlakha, former president of the People’s Union for Democratic Reforms, Varavara Rao, a poet-activist, Vernon Gonsalves, human rights activist, and Arun Ferreira, a civil rights activist and lawyer based in Mumbai.