Restriction on dissent growing in India: Salman Khurshid

New Delhi: A day after Maharashtra Police arrested five activists in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence, Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Wednesday said that ‘an atmosphere imposing restrictions on dissent’ is enveloping the country.

The former minister asserted that voices of those who criticize the central government are being curbed.

“Rahul Gandhi and scores of other people who believe in freedom of expression have repeatedly raised their voices against stifling voices of dissent,” said Khurshid.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has to ensure that law is observed, but it should also be observed while people are expressing their views against the government,” he added.

Another Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi also echoed similar sentiments and said, “I hope and trust that full due process and law has been followed during the arrest and I also hope that authorities have proper material evidence against the people who were arrested. We must wait for few days to get the correct facts in order to react properly.”

Raids were carried out by the Pune Police in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Delhi and Thane, with informed sources telling ANI that Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Gonsalves and Sudha Bhardwaj were the five activists arrested in connection with the violence which broke out in January.

The police have booked all the accused under Sections 153 A, 505(1) B,117,120 B,13,16,18,20,38,39,40 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Apart from Gandhi, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also condemned the arrests, saying that it was a “blatant attack on democratic rights in the country,” and that it was worse than the declaration of the Emergency in 1975.

In Januray, violence erupted in Bhima Koregaon during the gathering to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. A youth died and several others, including 10 policemen, were injured in the incident.