India heading towards dictatorship: Lalu on activists’ arrest

Patna: Former Bihar chief minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad on Wednesday said that India is heading towards a clear rule of dictatorship under the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Lalu Prasad’s remarks come after arrests of five activists in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon for allegedly making provocative speeches at an event in January, which the police claimed, triggered violence.

“The arrests of the intellectuals, activists indicate that the country is heading towards an emergency and a rule of dictatorship and I condemn it. Even the women writers and intellectuals were arrested and, I fear, there are more arrest left to be made,” Lalu said.

“The Government will stage more excuses and arrest leaders, intellectuals, writers they don’t like, by somehow framing an allegation against them,” he added.

On Tuesday, the Maharashtra police conducted raids in several cities in the state and arrested five activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and P Varavara Rao – in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence earlier this year.

Various opposition leaders including Congress’ Sashi Tharoor, Salman Khurshid, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury censured the government over the arrests.

Lalu Prasad, who is also convicted in the fodder scam case, also reached Ranchi earlier today. The Jharkhand High Court instructed the veteran politician to surrender before the CBI court in Ranchi by August 30. He was also granted a temporary bail for six weeks on May 11 for his treatment.

However, the extension of provisional bail was nullified by the Jharkhand High Court a few days back.