Activist Varara Rao is escorted by policemen as he is arrested in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The arrests of activists across India by Pune police has been called an ‘undeclared emergency’ by social media users in the country.

Pune police launched sweeping raids across India to arrest five activists in connection with the Koregaon Bhima violence in January.

Soon after news broke of the arrests, #BhimaKoregaon became the top trend on Twitter along with activists Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj also on the list of top trends in the country.

Social media users criticised the attack on the activists, calling it an attack on free speech and an open society.

Referring to a radical Hindu group in India, journalist @sardesairajdeep tweeted: “In the ‘new’ India human rights activists will be arrested but no one wants to touch groups like Sanathan Sanstha! And the country stays silent! #BhimaKoregaon”

Another journalist @Raksha_Kumar wrote: “ ‘... and there was no one left to speak for me’. Ask why are specific lawyers, activists being raided? Where has the #BhimaKoregaon case reached? How does it matter to democracy if dissent is brutally silenced? Ask these questions and more.”


Many went on to call the arrests an undeclared emergency.

@drshamamohd tweeted: “Media houses put on notice. Journalists told to tow the line or be sacked. Defamation suits filed against those who expose governmentt corruption. Mass arrests of activists. The harsh reality - India is in a state of Undeclared Emergency! #BhimaKoregaon #ModiAmbaniRafaleScam”

Journalist Swati Chaturvedi, who tweets under the handle @bainjal, wrote: “The panna pramukhs [area heads] manufacture spin about “urban naxals” (term which has no meaning) then the Modi Sarkar clamp down and arrest activists and critics. Still confused about an undeclared emergency”

Tweep @rohini_sgh wrote: “If it looks like the Emergency, feels like the Emergency and supresses like the Emergency, it IS the Emergency. However undeclared. #SudhaBharadwaj”

@DilliDurAst tweeted: “Chilling to see the Modi government bare its fangs. The government’s critics are being raided and arrested. The undeclared Emergency is getting a declaration. This comes weeks after govt created noise about ‘Urban Naxals’ through its media proxies.”

@arjunsheoran posted a picture of Subha Bharadwaj soon after the raids and wrote: “Advocate @Sudhabharadwaj in custody with constable. Her ability to smile under such trying circumstances gives us all hope and strength - “Kya zulmaton ke daur mein bhi geet gaye jayenge? Haan, zulmaton ke daur ke hee geet gayenge jayenge” [Will we sing songs in times of darkness? Yes, we will sing songs about the times of darkness] #BhimaKoregaon #DefendTheDefenders

Earlier this month, #UndeclaredEmergency was trending in India as social media users highlighted the attack on freedom of expression and the Press.