After three of the five arrested activists were produced in a Pune court on Wednesday, public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar's claim that they were members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and constituted an "anti-fascist" front that aims to overthrow the government was lapped up by many.
After multi-city raids on Tuesday, the Pune police had arrested Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, and activists Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves. They have been placed under house arrest after a Supreme Court order yesterday. The arrests have raised widespread condemnation, with many describing it as "absolutely chilling".
Ms Pawar told the court that the three activists along with the other accused had allegedly "worked on a conspiracy" hatched during the "Eastern Regional Bureau meeting" of the CPI(Maoist) to form an "All India United Front". She also claimed that the "Anti-Fascist Front" was this resultant outfit under which the Elgaar Parishad event was organised in Koregaon Bhima, near Pune.
She also alleged that there was a "systematic" plan to "spread Maoist thoughts and instigate violence", in which, "everyone, including the five arrested, had played their role".
However, she didn't specify the roles that the arrested people had played in the formation of the "Anti-Fascist Front".
During the hearing, the public prosecutor read out from letters allegedly seized from the accused, presenting it as evidence that the arrested were working in collusion with Maoists. The remand report, however, only stated that they are active members of the CPI (Maoist) and are trying to "advance their cause" though illegal activities.
To be anti-fascist can only be a crime in a fascist country. In a free society that grants equal rights to all, being anti fascist should be encouraged and celebrated. pic.twitter.com/Rs3T6dEdqE- Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) August 30, 2018
Modi Sarkar frankly admits that they are running a fascist set up and that the five arrested persons are anti-fascist!! pic.twitter.com/ugkKVTxK2M- Brijesh Kalappa (@brijeshkalappa) August 30, 2018
Pune Police certifies Modi's Govt as fascist...!- Rajiv Tyagi (@rajivtango) August 30, 2018
Pune Police to Court: "[The 5 who were arrested] were a part of an anti-fascist plot to overthrow the current Government."
The guy who used the words "anti-fascist plot" must be having the biggest facepalm moment of his life pic.twitter.com/hP45hoLEVW- sweta sheth (@swetasheth1) August 30, 2018
"If the government says anti-fascist front is basically a plot against Modi government, isn't that admitting the Modi government is fascist," asked activist Kavita Krishnan.
Wow!!- UrbanNaxal (@aaadubey1) August 30, 2018
Country has come to such a tyrannical point, where public prosecutor is pro-fascist & justifying arrests of activists for being 'anti-fascist'....#BlackCapFascists are polluting every constitutional institutions...
The arrest of five activists on allegations of Maoist links is symptomatic of a "constitutional breakdown" which made it "very important for us to come out" said a group rights activists, holding a press conference in Delhi today.
Launching an all-out attack on the government that encompassed demonetization, Rafale deal and the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, author Arundhati Roy said, "From now to elections, it will be a circus of arrests, lynchings, riots... Divide and rule is an old method. Now it is divert and rule".
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