Booker-award winning Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy has likened the Tuesday’s arrests of lawyers, journalist and Dalit rights activists to the beginning of Emergency under the Centre’s Narendra Modi government.
In a statement, Roy said, “That the raids are taking place on the homes of lawyers, poets, writers, Dalit rights activists and intellectuals- instead of on those who make up lynch mobs and murder people in broad daylight tells us very clearly where India is headed.
“Anybody who speaks up for justice or against Hindu majoritarianism is being made into a criminal. What is happening is absolutely perilous. It is in preparation for the coming elections. We cannot allow this to happen. We have to all come together. Otherwise we will lose every freedom that we cherish. It is as close to a declaration of an Emergency as we are going to get.”
Later, the author also added that the simultaneous state-wide arrests were a dangerous sign of a government ‘that fears it is losing its mandate and is falling into panic.’
She said, ” In the run-up to elections, this is the attempted coup against the Indian constitution and all the freedom that we cherish.”
Her comments came after police from Maharashtra, which has a BJP government, conducted countrywide raids on activists, writers and journalist with and arrested at least five of them. The arrested individuals were human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, journalist Gautam Navlakha, activists Varavara Rao, Arun Fereira and Venon Gonsalves.
Their arrests were widely condemned with historian Ram Guha demanding an immediate intervention by the Supreme Court. “As a biographer of Gandhi, I have no doubt that if the Mahatma was alive today, he would don his lawyer’s robes and defend Sudha Bharadwaj in court; that is assuming the Modi Sarkar hadn’t yet detained and arrested him too,” he wrote.