Two Left-wing activists Varavara Rao and Sudha Bhardwaj were arrested on Tuesday as the Pune police carried out searches at the residences of people suspected to have Maoist links, a senior police official said. Simultaneous searches were conducted at multiple places in various states.
Activist Gautam Navlakha was also detained in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the violence in Maharashtra’s Koregaon-Bhima village, triggered by an event, ‘Elgar Parishad’ (conclave), held in Pune on December 31 last year.
The raids have been carried out in Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Haryana since morning.
Searches were carried out at the residences of Left wing activist and poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and Chhattisgarh and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha in Delhi, the official said, while refusing to be identified.
According to a report in IANS, family members of Rao have said the Maharashtra Police arrested Rao for his alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A police team from Pune arrested the revolutionary writer from Hyderabad after searching his house and the houses of his family members and friends including a journalist.
Varvara Rao was shifted to the government-run Gandhi Hospital for a medical check-up. He is likely to be produced before a court in Hyderabad before shifting him to Pune.
In June, police in Pune had allegedly recovered a letter mentioning a plan to assassinate Modi from the house of one of the five persons arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence.
The letter written by a person identified only as ‘R’ reportedly mentions a plot to kill the Prime Minister on the lines of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
It also referred to requirement of Rs 8 crore to purchase a M-4 rifle and four lakh rounds to execute the plot. The letter reportedly mentioned Varvara Rao’s name.
In June, five people were arrested for having close Maoist links after they allegedly made “provocative” speeches at the event, triggering violence at Koregaon-Bhima village in the district, according to an FIR registered at the Vishrambaug Police Station after the event.
The searches today were conducted at homes of people having Maoist links and those directly or indirectly connected with the five arrested people, the official said.
The police claimed to have recovered “some incriminating documents” during the searches.
“We are also checking the financial transactions of these people, their modes of communication and also trying to gather technical evidence,” the police official said.
Outgoing joint commissioner of Pune police Ravindra Kadam, on August 2, said no Maoist link had been found in the Bhima Koregaon violence.
He had, however, said an ‘anti-fascist front’, formed by the Maoists to oppose the policies of the current government, was behind the ‘Elgar Parishad’ held in Pune a day before the incident that saw protests by Dalit groups.
Kadam, who has been transferred to Nagpur in a recent reshuffle, had told reporters that the police have ample evidence in the form of documents and video footage against the arrested persons.
(With inputs from agencies)