Maoist ideologue and revolutionary writer P Varavara Rao was arrested on Tuesday by Pune Police in Hyderabad on charges of being part of a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources close to his family said.
The arrest was preceded by searches for nearly eight hours at Rao’s house in Gandhi Nagar and those of seven others, including two journalists close to him and a professor at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), in different parts of the city.
One of the journalists, Tekula Kranthi, was also arrested after police reportedly seized his laptop and several documents allegedly showing his connections with the Maoist party.
The 78-year old Rao was first taken to Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad amidst tight security for a medical examination. He is likely to be taken to Pune after being produced in a local court in Hyderabad later in the evening.
Tension prevailed at Rao’s house, where a large number of his followers and representatives of various social organisations assembled with placards condemning his arrest.
“It is highly atrocious on the part of the Maharashtra police to arrest Vara Vara Rao on false grounds. How can an ordinary person sitting in Hyderabad plot to kill the Prime Minister? They are fabricating the case against him,” Progressive Organisation of Women (POW) president P Sandhya alleged.
Pune Police told a local court on June 8 this year that they had found a letter from the Delhi residence of a Maoist sympathiser Rona Jacob Wilson, one of the five people arrested for their alleged links with the banned Maoist party. The letter reportedly mentioned the requirement of Rs 8 crore to purchase M-4 rifle and four lakh rounds. It also discussed the possibility of “another Rajiv Gandhi incident”.
The letter also mentioned that Rao and Surendra Gadling, an advocate who was also arrested by the Pune Police in Mumbai, had been guiding the revolutionaries in carrying out successful attacks in the past. The letter mentioned that Rao “had arranged for funds for the same (for another sensational attack) and Surendra would provide you with the fund.”
Apart from Wilson and Gadling, Pune Police also arrested three others – Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai and Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut from Nagpur.
However, Rao told media on the same day that he had nothing to do with the so-called “incriminating letter”, which quoted his name as being involved in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Modi. Rao, however, admitted he knew Gadling and Wilson.
“I don’t deny that I know the people who were arrested by the Pune Police. They have all been working for the downtrodden and release of political prisoners. They are all against murder politics,” he had said, adding that he did not believe Maoists had the strength to assassinate the Prime Minister of the country.