Poet, writer Varavara Rao arrested for alleged Maoists links

Hyderabad: Left leaning poet and writer Varavara Rao was arrested from his residence here for his alleged links with Maoists.

He was arrested from his residence at Gandhi Nagar by a police team from Pune.

A senior police official here said the team conducted searches at the residences of Rao’s two daughters and a journalist, among others, before arresting him.

“Pune police sought our assistance. We have provided them with local force to assist in conducting searches and making the arrest. They arrested Varavara Rao. He will be produced in a court and taken to Pune on transit warrant,” Deputy Commissioner of Police ( Central Zone) Viswa Prasad told PTI.

Besides Rao, left wing activist Sudha Bhardwaj was also arrested at Faridabad. Protesting against the arrest, Civil Liberties Committee president Gaddam Laxman said they would fight the issue legally.

“The BJP Government is attacking intellectuals physically and mentally torturing them. We are consulting legal experts. We will fight legally. National Human Rights Commission should take this up suo moto. His arrest is a gross violation of human rights,” Laxman told reporters.

Varavara Raos wife Hemalatha said police searched their house from 6 am to 2 pm. She also said Rao had not been keeping good health for the past two months.

“They (police) filed over 20 cases against him in the past. He was arrested several times. They never exceeded their limits when arresting him. This time they entered our house and searched… They say his name was there in a letter. Whatever it is, we will settle the issue in court,” she told reporters.

This time, the families were also targetted, she alleged. The raids and arrests were carried out as part of the probe into the violence at Maharashtra’s Koregaon Bhima village following an event called ‘Elgar Parishad‘ (conclave) held in Pune last year.

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.

Rao’s name had cropped up in a letter seized by police during searches at the premises of one of the five people arrested in June in connection with the Elgar Parishad event held on 31 December 2017 to commemorate 200 years of the Koregaon Bhima battle in 1818.

Koregaon-Bhima occupies a central place in Dalit history – it witnessed a major battle in which the Peshwa rulers were defeated on 1 January 1818 by the British army, comprising a large number of Dalit soldiers.

Every year, the anniversary of the battle is marked by thousands of Dalits assembling in Pune and marching to Koregaon-Bhima to a war memorial.