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Pune police operation to arrest Varavara Rao 'illegal', alleges family

By Pti
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    Hyderabad, Aug 29: The arrest of Left-leaning poet and writer Varavara Rao and searches in his two daughters residences were "illegal", claimed a family member. N Venugopal alleged that the Pune Police did not produce arrest and search warrants against his maternal uncle Rao.

    Sujatha, daughter of activist Varvara Rao. Courtesy: ANI news

    The activist was arrested from his residence here yesterday by a Pune police team for his alleged links with Maoists.

    The team conducted searches at the residences of Rao's two daughters and a journalist before arresting him.

    [Also Read: Raids on urban naxals: The two incriminating letters that talk about a big hit and guiding Maoists]

    "At the end of the whole operation, they (Pune police) gave a 'panchnama' but that's most untenable and illegal document," Venugopal said today. He claimed that the seven page Panchnama report was written in Marathi.

    "First thing in law is if any seizure is done in any house, it should be given in a language understood by the people whose house is searched. So, this seven-page document is illegal. Even digits were in Marathi. So, no body knows what's there," Venugopal said. The police also brought their own staff witnesses from Pune, he alleged. In any Panchnama report, local respectable citizens have to be witnesses.

    Also Read: Raids on naxal sympathisers: Who are the five persons to be arrested

    "So, this also an illegal attempt." On each page of the Panchnama report, these two witnesses and police officer signed but Varavara Rao's and his wife Hemalatha's signatures were taken only on the seventh page, he alleged.

    "That means in the first six pages they (police) can concoct, they can cook up, they can write whatever, we don't know it's in Marathi, we don't know if they wrote 'we got bombs, we got pistols and whatever.'

    Whole operation was illegal", Venugopal told PTI. Varavara Rao's wife is the elder sister of Venugopal, who is also son of the activist's sister.

    "Original case is Bhima-Koregaon. They (Pune police) are now claiming that as part of the investigation, they have found some letter; in that letter they found something else and on (Narendra) Modi's assassination attempt. This is a byproduct of the original case", he said.

    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 December 31, 2017 to commemorate 200 years of the Koregaon Bhima battle in 1818.

    Maharashtra Police yesterday raided the homes of prominent Left-wing activists in several states and arrested at least five of them for suspected Maoist links, sparking a chorus of outraged protests from human rights defenders.

    The raids were carried out as part of a probe into an event called Elgar Parishad, or conclave, on December 31 last year, which had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.

    Prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha was arrested from New Delhi.

    PTI

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