In a crackdown on members of the Revolutionary Writers Association (Viplava Rachiyatala Sangham-Virasam), which has been banned alongwith the Communist Party of India(Maoist) and six other frontal organizations, Andhra Pradesh police arrested former Maoist emissary and prominent revolutionary writer Varavara Rao from his residence in Malakpet area in Hyderabad early Friday morning.
A police party reached Varavara Rao's house soon after midnight and he was taken into custody at 3.30 am, after a three-hour long drama at his flat in a residential complex. He was later taken to Chaderghat police station.
His wife Hemalata, former Maoist emissary and revolutionary balladeer Gaddar and civil rights activists staged a dharna at the police station demanding his immediate release.
Police said Varavara Rao would be produced before a magistrate for judicial remand. Gaddar met Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, appealing him to release Varavara Rao unconditionally. However, Reddy rejected the plea.
The chief minister banned the rebel organization on Wednesday after suspected Maoist rebels attacked a government street rally in Hyderabad, killing 10 people including state Congress legislator Chittem Narsi Reddy.
Though the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) or people's war group and six other frontal organizations were outlawed earlier also, Varavara Rao, a founder member of Virasam, remained overground.
"In my 37 years of public life, I was arrested several times. If police wants to arrest me, I am ready to go to jail," he stated when Virasam was included in the list of proscribed organizations under the AP Public Security Act.
The Virasam was founded in 1970 by revolutionary writers and poets who included Sri Sri, Varavara Rao and others. Varavara Rao and Virasam state president G Kalyan Rao and balladeer Gaddar had acted as emissaries of Maoists in the first-ever direct peace talks with the government in October last year.
They quit as Maoist emissaries after the CPI-Maoist and CPI-ML Janashakti withdrew from the talks in January this year. Kalyan Rao went into hiding and remained incommunicado with the media after the ban was imposed on Virasam, amidst speculation that Virasam would move the AP high court to challenge the government action on the ground that the notification failed to establish sufficient grounds for outlawing this association of revolutionary writers and poets.
Varavara Rao had earlier spent five years in jail. He was incarcerated for 19 months during the Internal Emergency (1975-77) and later on several occasions on charges of hatching a conspiracy against the state.
He had recently announced his resignation from Virasam following differences with Kalyan Rao. But when the government imposed the ban on Virasam, he declared that he was still associated with the organization.