Human Rights Activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who was arrested on Tuesday following the multi-city raids in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima riots in Maharashtra, has been put under house arrest after court intervention.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Ashok Kumar has barred the police from taking Bharadwaj to Pune, ordering that she be kept under house arrest till August 30.
Sudha Bharadwaj is one of the five activists who were arrested on Tuesday by the Pune police, alleging they have Maoist links.
Bharadwaj was picked up by the police from her home in Faridabad’s Sector 39. The police said they had seized two laptops, two mobile phones, and one pen drive from her home and she was also made to submit the passwords of her social media and email accounts.
Sudha Bharadwaj is a visiting professor of Law and Poverty, and tribal rights at the National Law University (NLU), Delhi. She is a civil rights activist and the general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Chhattisgarh.
Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Bharadwaj had said, “I basically think that whatever is the opposition to the present regime, whether it is on the issue of tribal rights or workers’ right or human rights, whatever it is, or Dalit rights for that matter, everybody who is in the opposition is being rounded up in this manner. I have been working for the last 30 years, and I know very well, I am absolutely a public figure, everybody knows about my credentials, I have nothing to do with the incident in the FIR.”
“My mobiles, my laptops, my pen drive, have been seized by the police and I am pretty sure and I really apprehend that they are going to play around with my data. My Gmail password has been taken, my Twitter password has been taken, I really don’t know what they are going to do with all that. That is data which is in the air, that is nothing that you can seal by just sticking cellotape on it,” she added.
In major raids conducted across five states on Tuesday, the Pune police arrested five activists on charges of being Naxal sympathisers and to investigate their alleged connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence that rocked Pune in January this year.
The five persons raided are Varavara Rao (Telangana), Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Pereira (Mumbai), Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha (Delhi).
The authorities confiscated belongings like phones, cameras, laptops, SIM cards and also seized documents and writings from the residence of the activists.
This is the second time that the police have taken such an action. On 17 April, the Pune police swooped on over half a dozen Dalit activists and those involved with the Kabir Kala Manch, which organised an Elgar Conference in Pune on 31 December 2017.
According to the police, the speeches made by the activists arrested Tuesday at the Elgaar Parishad conclave, a day ahead of the bicentennial celebration of the battle of Bhima Koregaon, were one of the triggers for the violence that gripped Pune the next day.
The violence left one person dead and ended with Maharashtra shutdown on 3 January called by the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, headed by Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar.