28/08/2018 2:33 PM IST | Updated 28/08/2018 3:33 PM IST

What You Need To Know About The Activists Raided By Police Over The Bhima-Koregaon Violence

Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and others have been persecuted by the state several times before.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A file photo of protesters agitating after clashes broke out between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindutva organisations during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle earlier this year.

The homes of prominent activists were raided by the police earlier on Tuesday, allegedly in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January. In June, five people including lawyer Surendra Gadling and activist Mahesh Raut were arrested by the police.

As the political witch-hunt against human rights activists, lawyers, writers and academics continues, here's what you need to know about the people who were targeted on Tuesday.

Sudha Bharadwaj

Bharadwaj is the general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties in Chhattisgarh where she has lived for almost three decades and worked as a civil rights activist. She has closely worked with adivasis in the area. When Binayak Sen was arrested, Bharadwaj had criticised the move, saying sedition was used as a political tool against him. She had also protested the arrest of other activists in the case.

Anand Teltumbde

Another civil rights activist, Teltumbde has written several books on the Dalit movement, BR Ambedkar and caste. A harsh critic of the Modi government, he also writes a column for the Economic and Political Weekly called 'Margin Speak'. In his latest column about lynchings in India, he wrote, "Politics in India was never really principled but neither had it stooped to such lows, as we experience today. That lies, doublespeak and falsehoods are integral to politicians was always known but rarely were these peddled, in keeping with Goebbels' maxim, as blatantly as they are today."

Susan Abraham

News reports say the advocate and activist is also among those who have been targeted. Abraham has written extensively on the wrongful use of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by governments. Her husband Vernon Gonsalves was held by the Maharashtra ATS on charges of being a Naxalite in 2007 and the Act was used against him. On the sentencing of GN Saibaba, Prashant Rahi, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki and Pandu Narote, she wrote last year, "Apart from citing irrelevant documents, it (the court) has ignored valid evidence and arguments presented by the defence, and accepted dubious versions of the same presented by the prosecution."

Arun Ferreira

This is not writer and lawyer Arun Ferreira's first brush with the law. In 2007, he was arrested by the anti-Naxalite squad in connection with a police-naxalite encounter. After spending nearly five years in Nagpur Central Jail, he was granted bail in 2012 and acquitted in the last of the cases against him in 2014. At the time, he told that he wanted to "work for the cause of political prisoners". In a column published in Open magazine after his release, he had detailed the ordeal he suffered in prison. In June, after police picked up five people in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence, he told Mid-Day that this was an attempt to arrest and target social activists and thereafter, fabricate evidence.

Varavara Rao

Rao is a revolutionary poet whose activism has riled many governments. He was arrested in 1973 for his political activism and then again in 1975 on the eve of the Emergency. He has been in and out of jail several times, especially under the rule of the Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh. He is the founder of the All India League for Revolutionary Culture. He also became an emissary for the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Peoples War when the TDP government proposed peace talks with Peoples War party in 2001.