Arrest of prominent intellectuals and dissidents widely condemned by diaspora
September 02, 2018
The Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA), an umbrella coalition of progressive organizations across the United States, today condemned the sweeping attacks against activists and intellectuals in India, leading to the arrest of five prominent public figures known for their courage and tenacity in combating caste oppression.
Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira were all arrested on the same day from their homes in different Indian cities on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. The arrests have been roundly condemned as a "massive crackdown" by prominent personalities across India, as well as by international human rights groups such as Amnesty International.
The fact that the police waited for Republic TV to arrive after having arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, shows the intent was to sensationalize the arrest and demonize activists such as Ms. Bhardwaj.
"It is deeply alarming to see the government arrest activists who seek to defend justice and human dignity, as opposed to arresting those who perpetrate violations of human rights and religious freedom, " said Mr. Bhajan Singh, founding director of Organization of Minorities in India (OFMI).
AJA has demanded dropping of all the false and malicious charges against these intellectuals and an investigation into the political motives behind their harrassment.
"The fact that a BJP lawmaker from Karnataka recently advocated the killing of all intellectuals, is an indication of India's accelerating trajectory towards mob rule, " said Mr. Umang Kumar, a noted community activist who is part of AJA. "Attack on human rights defenders such as Swami Agnivesh and Umar Khalid are a direct outcome of such vitriol coming from the ruling party," added Mr. Umang.
"Clearly, the government seems to be playing to polarize the nation before the 2019 elections. Such open subversion of the rule of law does not help any community," added Mr. Ahsan Khan, President Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability has pledged to work with people of all faiths to defend India from the onslaught of hate and divisiveness.