Several activists, mostly teachers, including prominent educationist Prof G Haragopal, were detained by the Hyderabad police on Saturday as they attempted to hold an indoor meeting to demand the release of revolutionary writer Varavara Rao and other intellectuals, who are in jail since November last year. The activists were released on Saturday evening being detained for a few hours.
Speaking to TNM, Haragopal said that around 5 people were detained at the Narayanguda police station, while around 50 to 60 people had been taken into custody and shifted to the Ramgopalpet police station.
Varavara Rao, who headed Virasam, an association of revolutionary writers, was arrested by the Pune police on August 28 from Hyderabad. A case was booked against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferriera, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves as well. The police claimed that they were all part of an ‘urban Naxal’ network but the arrests were widely condemned.
"The Democratic Teachers Federation planned to hold a meeting and there is no need for special police permission as it was indoors. However, we learnt that the police had told the TNGOS President not to give us the hall, where we planned to hold the event," Haragopal said.
"I informed a sitting TRS MP, who said that he spoke to the concerned authorities, and we didn't expect any further trouble. However, when we reached the venue on Saturday morning, we found it locked up and the police told us we can't gather there and detained everyone who had come there," he added. The activists were released at around 7 pm.
In a statement, Virasaram condemned the move by the Telangana government and called it 'undemocratic' and 'inhuman'.
"It's shameful to disrupt an indoor meeting of teachers who want to speak about the incarceration of fellow teachers like Varavara Rao and other intellectuals. It's shameful to boast about the percentage of polling as a mark of democracy while suppressing democratic voices simultaneously," the statement said. It also demanded the immediate release of those who were picked up by the police.
Just last week, Varavara Rao’s wife, P Hemalata, wrote an open letter to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, where she pointed out that her husband had been imprisoned in Pune’s Yerawada Central jail for the last five months. Varavara Rao was arrested in August last year and was later released but kept under house arrest. He was arrested again in November last year.
“Varavara Rao is a worthy child of Telangana. He has been expressing his opinions in favour of a separate Telangana since 1968. He has been using his pen and voice for the sake of protecting the interests of the Telangana people for the last fifty years,” she wrote, reminding KCR that it was his duty as head of the Telangana government to raise his voice against the imprisonment.