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India arrests 5 rights activists for alleged Maoist links

NEW DELHI (AP) – Indian police have arrested five rights activists for suspected links to Maoists in raids on their homes and offices at several places in the country.

Police also accused the five of delivering speeches that triggered protests and violence in the western city of Pune on Dec. 31. The government says Maoist rebels, who are active in several states, are India’s biggest internal security threat.

Those arrested Tuesday were Telugu language poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira in Mumbai, and Gautam Navalakha and Sudha Bhardwaj in New Delhi and a neighbouring town, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The government crackdown was condemned by Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International India, who said the arrests threatened core human rights values.

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