The Pune police on Tuesday conducted raids at several locations in Hyderabad, including the residence of writer and Maoist sympathiser Varavara Rao and took him into custody, reportedly on charges of allegedly attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After hours of questioning the writer at his home in Hyderabad, the police escorted him out. According to the local media, he will be taken to a government hospital for a medical check up before being presented in front of a magistrate in Nampally in the city.
Besides Rao’s house, raids were conducted at the residences of his son-in-law, KV Kurmanath, a journalist with The Hindu, and Kranthi Tekula, a journalist with Namaste Telangana. The residence of Professor K Satyanarayana from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), who is also Rao's son-in-law, was also reportedly raided.
The phones of all the people in question were not reachable or switched off despite repeated attempts made to contact them.
Many activists and Left party leaders gathered outside Rao’s house and chanted slogans demanding that the cases filed must be withdrawn and the writer must be released.
“We condemn this attack on Varavara Rao. The Centre is doing everything it can to curb dissent and this is nothing but facism,” activist Sandhya from the Progressive Organisation for Women (POW) told local reporters.
Further details are awaited.
While officials refused to comment on the issue, the raids were reportedly part of an investigation into plans to allegedly assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Raids were also conduced in Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi and Goa, and prominent human rights advocate Sudha Bhardwaj and writer Vernon Gonsalves have been detained.
Varavara Rao’s name had reportedly surfaced in one of the letters, which refers to a requirement of Rs 8 crore to procure M-4 rifles and 400,000 rounds and speaks of “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”.
However, speaking to reporters in Hyderabad in June this year, Rao had said, “I have absolutely nothing to do with the claims made in the letter. The police cannot do anything other than arrest me and foist false cases against me. The people arrested by the Pune police had all been working for the downtrodden and the release of political prisoners. They are not involved in murder politics.”
He also alleged that the letter was planted.
The police said that they found the letters while investigating the alleged Maoist links to the Koregaon-Bhima caste riots that left one person dead.