Noted human rights lawyer and activist, Sudha Bharadwaj, has issued a hand-written letter to rubbish the Pune Police’s allegations of her Maoist links. She said that the letetr produced by the Pune Police to substantiate its allegations against her was fabricated.
Bharadwaj was raided by the cops from Pune along with several other known activists and journalist, leading to their arrests. The arrested individuals were Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Gautam Navlakha in Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Haryana and Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonzalves in Maharashtra.
The Pune Police, which reports to the BJP government of Maharashtra, failed to take the arrested activists to Pune after lawyers representing them swiftly moved the higher court to stay the transit order. The Supreme Court, while hearing the petitions against their arrest, came down heavily on the attempts to crush the dissent under the current government.
Justice DY Chandrachud in particular had said, “Dissent is a safety valve of democracy. If it is not allowed, the pressure cooker will burst.” He had also noted that the arrests had taken place nine months after the activists were linked to the violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra. The top court halted the proceedings against the arrested activists till 5 September.
Maharashtra’s additional deputy general (law and order) Parambir Singh on Friday read from what he claimed were letters exchanged between Navlakha, Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling and their alleged Maoist associates.
#WATCH A letter by Rona Wilson to comrade Prakash,”I hope you have received details of a requirement of Rs.8 crores for the annual supply of grenade launchers. Comrade Kishan&others have proposed steps to end Modi raj, like Rajiv Gandhi incident:PB Singh, ADG, Maharashtra Police pic.twitter.com/571vQHQJH2
— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2018
Responding to the the alleged fake letter, Bharadwaj on Friday wrote:
Regarding the letter issued to the press by Pune Police.
- It is a totally concocted letter fabricated to criminalise me and other human rights lawyers, activists and organisations.
- It is a mixture of innocuous and publicly available facts and baseless fabrication. Various legal and democratic activities such as meetings, seminars, protests have been sought to be delegitimised by alleging that they are funded by Maoists.
- A number of human rights lawyers, activists and organisations have been deliberately named to cast a stigma over them, to obstruct their work and incite hatred against them.
- There is an effort to delegitimise IAPL [Indian Association of People’s Lawyers], an association of lawyers whose pride is Retd J [Retired Justice] Hosbet Suresh and which has been active in speaking up against attacks on lawyers.
- I categorically state that I have never given Rs 50,000 to hold any programme in Moga. Nor do I know any “Ankit from Maharashtra” or “Ankit who is in touch with Kashmiri separatists”.
- I know Gautam Navlakha, a senior and respected human rights activist whose name has been mentioned in a manner to criminalise and incite hatred against him.
- I know the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group well and have never solicited any fund for them, least of all from any banned organisation. I categorically state that their work has been absolutely legitimate and legal.
- I know Advocate Degree Prasad Chouhan, a Dalit human rights activist who is active in PUCL [People’s Union for Civil Liberties] and works with the Human Rights Law Network. Totally baseless allegation has been made against him.
- There has been an effort to criminalise and incite hatred against various lawyers, activists and organisations who have exposed HR [Human Rights] violations in Bastar, Chhattisgarh.
I once again declare that this is a fabricated letter, which I had refuted when it was first flashed on Republic TV on 4th July, and which has not even been brought before either the Pune court nor the CJM (Chief Judicial Magistrate) Faridabad while seeking to whisk me away to Pune.