Left-backed social activists and employees’ unions demanded the release of human rights activists on Thursday detained in the ongoing Bhima Koregaon probe which allegedly links the activists to Maoists. Traffic was blocked by the protesters on the Mohali-Chandigarh road for about two hours.
In the protest, members of the Kirti Kisan Union, Social Rights Sabha Punjab, Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Azad Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Punjab Kisan Union and several other employees’ unions came together at the Dussehra ground in Phase VIII and marched towards Chandigarh, where they were stopped at the border near Gita Bhawan.
The leaders of the employees’ union said that journalists like Gauri Lankesh were killed by some Right-wing outfits which indicates that the Union government wants to eliminate people who are speaking out against the government’s policies.
Harnek Singh Mavi said the BJP-led government wants to protect the real culprits of the Bhima-Koregaon violence and the government framed well-known human rights activists like Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Prof Varavara Rao and Vernon Gonsalves.
He added that the BJP-led government at the Centre was threatening these human rights activists who were speaking against the policies by portraying them as Urban Naxals.
The protesters alleged that the real culprit of the Bhima-Koregaon violence was Shamba Ji Bhide and he must be arrested with immediate effect.
Lachman Singh Sewawala said if the rights activists were not released, they will continue their protest across the state and elsewhere in the country.
Activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Gautam Navlakha from Delhi, Arun Pereira and Venon Gonsalves from Mumbai have been detained by the police.
The Maharashtra Police defended the arrests of five human rights activists who had been arrested in alleged connection to ‘Maoist links’ before the Supreme Court of India by saying that the investigation was based on “cogent evidence”.
The defense was in response to a plea which had been filed by Romila Thapar and four others. The police accused the activists of planning to carry out violence, planned ambush against country and security forces.
“Activists not arrested because of their dissenting opinion, there is sufficient material to dispel this impression,” the Maharashtra Police said.