“Apparently standard operating procedures have not been observed”
GN Bureau | August 29, 2018
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Maharashtra government, taking note of the arrest of five human-rights activists from different cities.
Maharashtra police arrested include lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, civil liberties activists, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Varavara Rao from different cities on Tuesday in connection with the investigations in the Bhima Koregaon violence, in Pune in the beginning of this year.
“On the basis of the media reports, the Commission has observed that it appears the standard operating procedure in connection with these arrests has not been properly followed by the police authorities, which may amount to violation of their human rights. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Maharashtra calling for a factual report in the matter within four weeks,” the NHRCD said on Wednesday.
Citing media reports, it noted that the Delhi High Court had stayed the transit remand for civil liberties activist Navlakha, observing that police had not been able to satisfactorily explain the offence he had been arrested for.
The decision on a transit remand for lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj was also pending before the chief judicial magistrate of Faridabad, the commission said in a release. “The activist has told the court that she had nothing to do with the incident for which she has been arrested. According to her, the FIR did not even name her and she is being harassed and arrested only because of her ideology.”
In the case of Navlakha, the court reportedly questioned how Pune police managed to get a transit remand from a Delhi court without any local witness. The court has also directed translation of the police documents into English which are in Marathi.
The commission has also observed that earlier it had received a complaint from an NGO from Geneva regarding illegal arrest of five human rights defenders namely Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut by Maharashtra police in the month of June, 2018. In that matter also, it had issued a notice on the June 29 to the DGP, Maharashtra calling for a report in the matter within four weeks, “which is yet to be received”.
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