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As hashtags like #MeTooUrbanNaxal trend on social media to protest the arrest of five activists by the Maharashtra Police, many argue that similar outrage was missing when police arrested three men for being allegedly involved in a Hindu terror plot.

ThePrint asks: Why is Maharashtra Police trusted to arrest ‘Hindu terrorists’, not ‘Maoists’?


 

Appalling how Congress is supporting activists and undermining Maharashtra Police

Raghav Awasthi
Lawyer, RSS member

It’s really unfortunate that some people are casting aspersions against the Maharashtra Police after the arrest of the five activists when this very police has also arrested three men with alleged links to radical Hindu outfits.

As far as the activists are concerned, there is copious evidence to suggest that at some point they had plotted to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This may not have panned out as they had planned but there was definitely an incipient threat against the PM.

I am sure in a week’s time or so, there will be enough evidence to implicate the activists. Many argue that dissent is integral to democracy, and I agree. Dissent is, in fact, the safety valve and the lifeblood of democracy. That being said, dissent cannot lead to incitement of violence or threat to the safety of another human being.

The state monopolises the use of violence and no one can aspire to overthrow the state. If Maoists think they can take over the Indian state and unfurl their flag at the Red Fort by 2040, this is just shameful. And those who choose to empathise with the Maoists shouldn’t get a free pass and must be painted with the same brush. I am not saying that the grievances of Maoists aren’t legitimate, but they can’t take to violence as a result.

What is appalling is how the Congress party has come forward in support of the activists—they are undermining the Maharashtra Police when it happens to be one of the best police force in the country. This must be condemned.


 

If I was the DGP, I would have thought a hundred times before proceeding with the arrests

D. Sivanandan
Former DGP, Maharashtra

Maharashtra Police or any other police work under the framework of the Constitution. When they arrest either Hindu leaders or top intellectuals, they need to have solid evidence to back up the arrests. Without appropriate homework, no police will cut its nose by venturing to harass people like Varavara Rao or Sudha Bharadwaj or Arun Ferreira. I am eager to know the kind of evidence the investigators have gathered, which is likely to come out later. So far, they have not been open about it. But when they reveal the evidence, it should be adequate to justify such high-profile arrests irrespective of the community or ideology it concerns.

This has become a sensitive matter and has also got the attention of the Supreme Court. I wish, pray and believe that the police have got enough evidence to prove their claims subsequently.

The image of the Maharashtra Police has so far been very good and they have taken calculated actions. Even in the case of the arrests of Hindu extremists, the cops took their time to gather proper evidence. They took four years, but did the right thing and coordinated with the Karnataka Police.

I have no inside knowledge about whether these arrests were politically motivated, but I cannot imagine what quarter would bring pressure to arrest such intellectuals at this point. Currently, the police have an upper hand over the Naxal situation. Left-wing extremism is on the wane. Arresting intellectuals at this point will only result in fanning the issue.

It is a sensitive issue and if I was in the hot seat, in the position of a DGP, I would have thought a hundred times before proceeding with the arrests. But if one has enough evidence, one absolutely has to do it.


 

Police act at the behest of political masters when it comes to sensitive matters

Mihir Desai
Human rights lawyer

I do not trust the Maharashtra Police in any sensitive matter, knowing very well that the police, across the country, act at the behest of their political masters in these matters. One will have to examine why the political masters are acting in a particular way. In case of the Hindu activists’ arrests, the ideology of the Sanatan Sanstha is close to the ideology of the government. If despite this, their sympathisers are being arrested then it has to be an extremely serious matter otherwise these arrests would not have happened. On the other hand, the government has been branding anybody who dissents as an anti-national or a Naxalite conveniently.

It is one thing that you have received information about somebody having bombs in their house and you go and arrest them, but it is another thing to investigate an FIR for nine months and simply arrest people based on it without giving them a hearing.

Giving the benefit of doubt to the police, if they suspect that some people might be involved, the minimum they should do is call them and seek an explanation about the material. If they do not give satisfactory answers, you can take action against them as per law. Also, there seems to be no consistency. In Jharkhand and Goa, the police raided houses of activists but did not take any steps to arrest them. This means, obviously the police are not relying on the documents they got hold of during the raids to make an arrest. The whole conduct of the police seems to be smacking of a larger conspiracy of the government, especially considering that the investigation has been going on for months and those arrested were not even named in the FIR.


 

Crackdown began under UPA, was taken to its logical conclusion under NDA

Kanchan Gupta
Political analyst

The hypocrisy is mind-boggling at best, pathetic at worst. After an investigation spanning more than a year, urban Maoists are arrested by the Maharashtra Police. All hell breaks loose. Left-liberal urban chatterati, many of whom also populate the Commentariat, rises to the defence of the arrested and trashes the Maharashtra Police. That the same lot was cheering the same police force for arresting ‘Hindu terrorists’ merits a smirk and a snigger.

The Supreme Court is welcome to its own interpretation of the words ‘dissent’ and ‘democracy’. Mobilising urban opinion in support of murderous Left-wing extremism, providing intellectual legitimacy to Red terrorism, sourcing funds and arms for Mao’s orphans to wage war on the Indian state, conspiring against the elected political leadership of India and recruiting foot soldiers after tainting their unsuspecting minds do not qualify as dissent. Any democracy worth its salt would put down such unlawful activity with an iron fist.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was not exaggerating when he repeatedly said the biggest internal security threat India faces is from Maoists. He forgot to add ‘and Useful Idiots’. The Congress cavils needlessly. The crackdown began during the UPA years. It is being taken to its logical conclusion by the NDA.

If the arrested lot walks free, it will not be on account of insufficient evidence or bad investigation by the Maharashtra Police. It will be because we are incapable of fighting the enemy within. Bogus liberalism has turned us into gutless cowards. We celebrate cowardice while demeaning the plight and sorrow of tens of thousands who suffer the depredations of Maoists and their ‘activist’ patrons. A plague on both your houses.


Hope that rule of law in India hasn’t been reduced to ideological quid pro quo

Meenakshi Ganguly
Human Rights Watch

I see this Hindu terrorist vs urban Maoist construct being discussed on social media but do hope that the authorities know better, and that the rule of law in India has not been reduced to an ideological quid pro quo.

Everyone has the right to due process, presumption of innocence, and fair trial. But one set of arrests is linked to a murder investigation after journalist Gauri Lankesh was killed. The other appears to be a politically motivated harassment of prominent human rights defenders.

What is more concerning for human rights in India is the obvious pattern, whether it is the killing of Gauri Lankesh, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalburgi; the recent arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, and Varavara Rao; or the raids on K. Satyanarayana, Anand Teltumbde, Stan Swamy, Kranthi Tekula and K.V. Kurmanath— all these are actions aimed at chilling peaceful dissent.


Hindu terrorist narrative was built by Congress-Communist nexus

Monica Arora
Advocate, Supreme Court of India

I have serious objections to the phrase “Hindu terrorists”. This Hindu terrorist narrative was built by the Congress-Communist nexus, which would repeatedly talk about saffron terror. The majority of the terror in this world is implicated by Muslims, but we don’t call it “green terrorism”. Why this hypocrisy?

According to a global report, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is the fourth-most deadly organisation in the world, which is why it has been banned in the country.

A document from 2004, “Strategy and tactics of the Indian revolution”, published by Maoists clearly highlights that lines like “bharat tere tukde honge” are not just hollow slogans but are backed by well-defined plans. The document clearly says that since in 1947 the British transferred power to the bourgeois class, it needs to be taken from them violently. A war has to be waged against the Indian state by taking up the issues of the tribals, minorities, women, Dalits, and by inciting them. The document declared Hindu forces as the “enemy”. The frontal organisation in urban areas consisting of lawyers, professors, media persons and NGOs provides leadership and resources to these Naxalites in the villages and jungles. The Maoists see the Army and the police as oppressors of the people on behalf of the state.

When the police apprehend and arrest those who are suspected to be involved in extremist activities, they have every right to investigate and deal with them in accordance with law. There is no outrage by this ecosystem of ‘Urban Naxals’ when this happens. However, when the same police touch these so-called human rights activists, the whole ecosystem outrages. The selective outrage must be called out.


Expecting Maharashtra Police to act in a law-abiding, professional way every time is strange

Shivam Vij
Contributing Editor, The Print

Consistency is a virtue worth cultivating, but it’s not something everyone is born with. It is strange that we are expected to either completely trust or completely distrust everything the Maharashtra Police does.

Could it be, just maybe, that the Maharashtra Police went after Sanatan Sanstha because the threat of terrorism coming from them was very real? At the same time, could it be, just maybe, that the Maharashtra Police has gone on a countrywide witch-hunt against radical Left activists because it’s been asked to do so by its political masters?

It is a strange expectation that the Maharashtra Police will act in a professional, just, law-abiding, honourable way in every case it handles, all the time. These things can depend on many factors — which officers are handling a case, or the compulsions of ground reality, to the orders from political masters.

Those doing whataboutery want to kill two birds with one stone. They want to make the Sanatan Sanstha look better, and they want to justify the McCarthyist arrest of activists. All these cases must be judged individually, with fairness, evidence and due process.

There is the case of Arun Ferreira who spent five years in jail on charges of being a Maoist but was found to be innocent. He has again been arrested by the Maharashtra Police as a Maoist. How credible does it sound that a man is accused of a crime, once again, after already having been declared innocent the last time?

Then there is the Sanatan Sanstha, which is accused of killing people and planning terror attacks, and unlike Arun Ferreira, it has not been declared innocent. Equivalence of these two different sets of cases is just farcical.


 

Comparing arrests of Sanatan Sanstha and the five activists is like comparing apples and oranges

Fatima Khan
Journalist, The Print

Let’s try and understand what we know so far. The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad arrested three men for links with radical Hindu outfits. They recovered a huge cache of explosives— live crude bombs and gelatin sticks included. The accused are believed to be associated with the Sanatan Sanstha.

On the other hand, the arrest of the five activists for having “Maoist links” and “plotting to kill PM Modi” comes across as nothing short of hogwash. Incidentally, the FIR which led to these arrests doesn’t even name a single activist out of the five arrested. Then what were these arrests based on? The lack of clarity prior to the arrest and even during the court proceedings is telling.

Professor Satyanarayana, whose house was raided, was asked by the police “why (there is) so much Dalit literature?” . This is proof of the underlying bias prevalent in this investigation.

The question is not whether Maharashtra Police, or any state-run institution for that matter, can be trusted or not. The point is to look at the details on a case-by-case basis and draw inferences from that— and not compare apples and oranges.


Compiled by Fatima Khan and Manasi Phadke.

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