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Chidambaram condemns arrest of rights activists, says holding view essence of democracy


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today condemned the arrest of several human rights activists for their suspected links with Maoists and said holding extreme left or right view is one's liberty and it was the essence of freedom.
In a series of tweets, the former home and finance minister said anyone holding extreme views is punishable only if he indulges in violence or incites violence or aids and abets violence in support of his ideology.
"I condemn the arrests of human rights activists, a lawyer and a poet. I will strongly disagree with those who hold extreme left or extreme right views, but I will defend his right to hold that view. That is the essence of freedom," he tweeted.
The Maharashtra Police yesterday raided the homes of prominent Left-wing activists in several states and arrested at least five of them for suspected Maoist links.
Near simultaneous searches were carried out at the residences of prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha in New Delhi, a senior police official said.
Rao, Bhardwaj, Farreira, Gonzalves and Navalakha were arrested under IPC Section 153 (A), which relates to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place or birth, residence, language and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, the official said.
Some other Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections were also pressed against those arrested, along with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their "alleged naxal activities," said the police official, without elaborating.
The premises of Father Stan Swamy, a tribal leader in Jharkhand were also searched but he was not detained, the official said.
Chidambaram was the union home minister when the government first went for a major offensive against Maoists in Naxal-hit states following a series of attacks on police, civilians and industries.

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First Published: Aug 29 2018 | 3:16 PM IST

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