Hyderabad: The police raid at the house of professor K Satyanarayana at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) campus in Hyderabad allegedly came without a valid warrant and officials conducting the search made some casteist remarks while indulging in moral policing and harassing his family. Satyanarayana said his only ‘crime’ it seemed was that he was the son-in-law of Varvara Rao, the Telugu poet and activist, who was arrested the same day.
The raids started at 8:30 am on Tuesday inside the EFLU staff quarters, nearly two hours after the search began at Rao's home.
"Nearly 20 cops -- 10 from Telangana police and 10 from Pune police -- arrived with a 'search warrant' in Marathi," he told Zeenews.com.
Satyanarayana alleged that the raid lasted nearly eight hours, during which the family was not allowed to meet anyone. The landline phone connection was cut, electronic gadgets including mobile phone and laptops seized while email ids were blocked.
Much later, after the raids were over, the professor claimed that the notice wasn't a search warrant but a mere statement from a senior police officer.
"'We're looking for Varavara Rao and he's likely to be in this house.' That's what the notice said. It wasn't a court order or a search warrant. Neither did they take any permission from university," said Satyanarayana.
"We were not even allowed bathroom breaks, or to brush our teeth and change clothes. When I wanted to visit the washroom, a person followed me and asked me to keep the door open. It was a complete violation of privacy" he added.
The police also made several "incriminating" statements about him and his wife K Pavana's caste, Satyanarayana claimed.
According to him, the police told his wife that "he (Satyanarayana ) is a Dalit. They have no culture or follow traditions. But you're (Pavana) are a Brahmin. Why don't you follow traditions? Why don't you wear sindoor and mangal sutra. Your father may be a communist but you can follow Hindu practices".
Sujatha Mukiri, another professor at EFLU who claims she was an eyewitness to the raid, claims that the entire episode has shaken the young students and faculty members of the varsity.
“Thirty years of academic life has been destroyed in five minutes. There is not a single charge against me. I am a faculty member, I have been doing my duty. There is nothing criminal about it. They imprisoned me in my house, did not let me come out of the house and dug up everything. Nothing was found in my house. All of this, because I am Varavara Rao's son-in-law that I've been targetted. How am I related to Bhima-Koregaon that happened in Maharashtra?
"They treated me like a terrorist. They asked me “why are you reading Mao”, “why are you reading Marx?”, “why are you having the Gaddar songs?” and “why are you keeping the photos of Ambedkar and Phule instead of gods and goddesses?”. They also asked me “why do you want to become an intellectual, why cant you be happy with the money you are getting?”. I am happy, but I have to read and teach,” said a teary Satyanarayana immediately after the raids.
"This is invasion of privacy. Supreme Court says there is right to privacy. What kind of privacy do I have -- not in my house, not to my computer, not to my relationships, not to my love letters. There is no privacy in this country. Where is the Supreme Court?" questioned Sathyanarayana while addressing a students' gathering.
The raids were also conducted at residences of close family members of the activists.
The home of senior journalist KV Kurmanath, another son-in-law of Varavara Rao, was also searched.
He was taking a morning walk at Indira Park in Hyderabad, when eight cops allegedly roughed him up, and "dragged him" to his home, after which the raids began.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra Police arrested five left-wing activitists, after raiding their homes in several states for suspected Maoist links over the Elgar Parishad meeting which was held a day before the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon violence. Among those arrested include Telugu poet Varavara Rao from Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha from New Delhi.
Varavara Rao is currently under house arrest till September 5 following Supreme Court's direction.
Several Opposition parties have criticized the entire incident.