Monday, July 6, 2020

India continues to chase intellectuals despite coronavirus pandemic

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On the anniversary of the birth of Bhimrao Ambedkar (1891-1956), father of the Indian Constitution, on April 14 in Hyderabad. Mahesh Kumar A / AP

Despite the health and humanitarian crisis caused by the new coronavirus, India is continuing its policy of repression against opponents of the ruling government. On Tuesday, April 14, academic and human rights activist Anand Teltumbde and journalist Gautam Navlakha were arrested by the National Investigation Agency, the country's counterterrorism body.

The two men, held in police custody, the first in Bombay, the second in Delhi, are accused of having participated in a meeting on 31 December 2017 in Pune, in the state of Maharashtra, during which violence were allegedly fomented against the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People's Party, BJP), and a plot to assassinate its representative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In India, intellectuals muzzled by Hindu nationalists

The next day was held in the village of Koregaon, about thirty kilometers from Pune, the traditional commemoration of the battle of 1818 which saw a local community of dalits (formerly called "untouchables") put an end to the Marath Empire which then reigned In the region. In reality, the 1er January 2018, these are the Dalits who were attacked by militants of thehindutva, "Hinduism", the ideology of supremacy of Hinduism and the upper castes, of which the BJP is the political showcase.

"A real tragedy for India"

Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha are known for their commitment against the caste system which keeps the dalits on the margins of society. Renowned personalities ask "Urgent intervention" of the Supreme Court to defend them. "When several countries around the world release prisoners threatened by the coronavirus, it is incredible to see the Indian authorities seeking to imprison people who should never have been arrested," denounces Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of the NGO Human Rights Watch.

The writer Arundhati Roy notes that the arrest of MM. Teltumbde and Navlakha spoke on the same day as the birthday of Bhimrao Ambedkar, hero of the Dalits, father of the Indian Constitution and national symbol of freedom of thought.

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The case is in addition to numerous arrests in recent months during mass protests against the Modi government's anti-Muslim policies. Also on Tuesday, April 14, in a completely confined India, journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, based in Delhi, was summoned by the police of Ayodhya, a holy city of Hinduism located 700 kilometers from the capital.

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