Left-wing activists Sudha Bhardwaj was arrested today as the Pune police carried out searches at multiple places in various states on the residences of people suspected to have Maoist links, a senior police official said. She has been charged under Sections 153a, 505, 117 and 120 of the Indian Penal Code and several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Ms Bharadwaj was arrested from her home in Faridabad and taken to Surajkhand police station. Her laptop and several documents were seized. The arrests have been described by many as “absolutely chilling” and a “virtual declaration of emergency”.
Advocate @Sudhabharadwaj in custody with constable.Her ability to smile under such trying circumstances gives us all hope & strength – "Kya zulmaton ke daur mein bhi geet gaye jayenge?
Haan, zulmaton ke daur ke hee geet gayenge jayenge" #BhimaKoregaon #DefendTheDefenders pic.twitter.com/0VSOId0CMY
— Arjun Sheoran (@arjunsheoran) August 28, 2018
The raids were carried out as part of a probe into the violence at Maharashtra’s Koregaon-Bhima village, triggered by an event called ‘Elgar Parishad’ (conclave) held in Pune on December 31 last year.
Ms Bharadwaj was to be taken to Pune hours after her arrest, but the High Court said she would remain under house arrest for three days unless the local court takes a considered view of the police’s transit remand request.
However, her lawyer said the police had taken her into custody because the chief judicial magistrate in Faridabad, who ordered the transit remand, has not received the High Court’s order.
Last month, Republic TV had carried a story claiming to be in possession of a letter in which Bharadwaj and others had written about creating a “Kashmir-like situation” in India. Identifying her as “Comrade Sudha”, the letter purportedly states that she has links to Maoists and Kashmiri separatists.
A trade unionist-turned-lawyer at the Chhattisgarh High Court, Ms Bharadwaj was nominated by the High Court to be a member of the Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority. She is a visiting professor at National Law University in Delhi.