Published: 29th August 2018
If you read too many books you are dangerous, police told this professor
The Pune police along with the Telangana police conducted a nine-hour-long marathon search
It was around 8.30 in the morning on Tuesday. Professor K Satyanarayana and his wife Pavana (Varavara Rao's daughter) saw a posse of policemen in mufti at their doorstep, armed with a search warrant in Marathi.
"They started pulling out books, clothes and everything else in our home. They did not allow us to communicate with anyone or even to peep out of the home. There have been no cases or charge sheets against me ever," said Satyanarayana, a professor and head of the department of cultural studies, at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU). ''I am interested in Dalit politics,'' he said soon after the search. Satyanarayana, who has been in academics for more than 20 years, claimed his life was an ''open book''.
After a nine-hour-long marathon search by the Pune police along with Telangana police at No. 21, Teaching Quarters on EFLU campus at Tarnaka, Satyanarayana said he could be implicated in some case or the other. ''I know nothing about Bhima Koregaon,'' he said.
After the searches ended at around 5 pm, Satyanarayana and Pavana, along with their colleagues and students, marched from the campus till the entry gate of the university.
"They were picking all material that was printed in red or which had any mention of Dalits, Muzzafarnagar, Caste, or had photos of Marx and others and questioned why we had them and why we read those books. We are academicians and draw conclusions after extensive reading. They said that if we read so many books, we might be dangerous," said Pavana who teaches English at a private degree college. She said that she worked in people's organisations to resolve women's issues.
The couple, who are active in academics and work for people's causes, said they were asked about the published literature they read and what they wrote. The professor said that their three laptops, hard disks of the desktop, pen drives, some published literature were taken away by the search teams but their phones were returned.
Satyanarayana's colleagues and members of EFLU Teachers Association condemned the searches. "The police are supposed to take permission from the university authorities before entering the campus," said Srinivas Lankala, vice-president of the association.
It never happened this way, says Varavara's wife
Varavara Rao's wife Hemalatha is not new to arrests or searches at their home. But she found Tuesday's raid that followed Rao's arrest to be "first of its kind". “This is the first time in our life that something like this has happened. They have raided our daughters and sons-in-law who do not know anything and have nothing to do with them. One of my sons-in-law teaches at EFLU, what does he know? Families being targeted is new for us.”
According to her, around 20 policemen came at 8:30 am. "All of them spoke among themselves in Marathi and to us in Hindi. One of them was a local police SI from a nearby police station. Since my husband is a BP patient, they let me cook rice for him. He ate curd rice," said Hemalatha, adding that no one misbehaved or talked to them rudely.
Hemalatha said police took away their mobile phones, disconnected the landline telephone, intercom and even switched off the television. They forcefully collected their email IDs and passwords. " They asked me to sign on a paper on which something was written in Marathi which I did not understand. I demanded an English version but they refused and said it was all they could give," she recalled and said Rao had around 20 cases against him but was acquitted in all.
Some sarees and clothes were thrown onto a diwan after the raids were over.“They took cell phones, both of ours and some of his old ones, and a computer hard disk. At the end they made us sign a document listing what they took. My husband's health condition is very bad and I am worried,'' she added.
The bitter experience of another son-in-law
Journalist KV Kurmanath was on a morning walk when a team of policemen walked up to him, took his cell phone and told him that they needed to conduct a search at his home.
As soon as he entered his flat, located next to that of his father-in-law Varavara Rao, a policewoman took away his wife Anala's mobile. They seized his laptop and the hard disk from his son's gaming computer. He requested them to transfer the audio clips of the interviews he did for his stories into a pen drive but they refused and took it away along with several others.
"My father-in-law supported the fight of around 18 lakh tenant farmers for their inclusion in the Rythu Bandhu scheme. Now, the chief minister is thinking of going in for early polls. But the TRS will lose those farmers' votes. KCR may have thought of killing two birds with one shot _ pleasing Modi and silencing people's voice with this arrest. "I was forced to sign on the report written in Marathi. I signed it mentioning that I did not understand what was written in it," Kurmanath said.