As many as 128 organisations suspected to have links with Maoists were identified by the UPA government in 2012 and some of those arrested by the Maharashtra Police yesterday were part of these front organisations of the extremist group. As voices against Modi government grew shriller for acting against human rights activists, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the nodal ministry which deals with left wing extremism, came out with facts and figures to justify the action of the Pune police.
The ministry said way back in 2012, the Manmohan Singh government had identified organisations and had asked states to initiate action against them.
“The UPA government had, in December 2012, identified 128 organisations with links to the CPI (Maoists) and written to all state governments asking them to take action against people involved with these organisations. Seven of those — Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Mahesh Raut — arrested so far, belong to the organisations appearing in this list,” a senior bureaucrat told NDTV.
While Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested yesterday, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut were arrested on June 6.
Mr Ferreira and Mr Gonsalves, two of the five arrested yesterday, were arrested in 2007 too and they had spent several years in prison. Similarly, Varavara Rao has been arrested several times by the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Police in the past.
“The current case involves the links of these individuals with the CPI (Maoist), a banned organisation operating with the devious objective of overthrowing democratic order, and the support provided by them to the CPI (Maoist),” explained an official dealing with the Left Wing Extremism desk.
“Such individuals cannot escape the responsibility for aiding and abetting the violent acts committed by CPI(Maoist)’s underground cadres,” he added.
According to home ministry, the CPI (Maoist), to achieve its ultimate objective of seizing political power through a long-drawn People’s War, attaches immense importance to the urban movement, which works towards creation of a united front in support of their movement.
“The urban movement is the main source for providing leadership and resources to the CPI(Maoist). The responsibility for provision of supplies, technologies, expertise, information and other logistic support is also shouldered by the overground activists in urban centres,” the official said.
The home ministry also presented figures to back up its stance.
Since 2001, altogether 6,956 civilians and 2,517 security personnel have been killed by the CPI (Maoist).
Naxal violence has also caused massive damage to infrastructure and virtually stalled development activities in some parts of the country.
The Pune police have submitted a detailed report regarding the arrests and ongoing investigations to the ministry.
According to report, the organisations to which the arrested people belong are: Surendra Gadling (General Secretary, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers), Rona Wilson (Public Relation Secretary, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners), Sudhir Dhawale (Republican Panthers), Shoma Sen (Executive Member, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights) and Mahesh Raut (State Convener, Maharashtra, Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan). All were arrested on June 6.
Those arrested yesterday are: Varavara Rao (President, Revolutionary Democratic Front), Sudha Bharadwaj (Vice-President, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers), Gautam Navlakha (Leader, People’s Union for Democratic Rights), Vernon Gonsalves (ex-Secretary, Maharashtra State Committee of CPI/Maoist) and Arun Ferreira (ex-Member, Maharashtra State Committee of CPI-Maoist).
“These people forged alliances with other organisations, which have nothing to do with Leftist ideology,” said another senior officer, explaining that different states adopt different strategies to tackle left-wing extremism.