NIA raids in Hyderabad: Officials at residence of journalist N Venugopal, kin of Varavara Rao

Venugopal is a kin of Varavara Rao, a prominent Indian activist hailing from Telangana, also an accused in the Elgar Parishad case.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 08, 2024 | 10:07 AMUpdatedFeb 08, 2024 | 8:00 PM

N Venugopal, editor of 'Veekshanam' magazine. (Supplied)

On Thursday, 8 February, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) initiated raids at six locations in Hyderabad of Telangana.

Among the targeted sites was the residence of N Venugopal, the editor of Veekshanam magazine, located in Himayatnagar.

The NIA team arrived at his residence at 5 am and conducted raids till 9:30 am on the premises.

Venugopal is a relative of Pendyala Varavara Rao, a prominent Indian activist and poet hailing from Telangana. Rao was named by the NIA as an accused in the Elgar Parishad Bhima-Koregaon violence case.

Simultaneously, NIA officers also searched the residence of human rights activist Ravi Sharma at another location. These searches were reportedly linked to suspicions of connections with Maoists.


NIA crackdown

The NIA, on Thursday, cracked down at multiple locations across the four states of Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala in a case involving a top CPI (Maoist) leader.

NIA teams raided premises of accused and suspects at a total of six locations — two in Hyderabad, and one each in Thane, Chennai, Mallapuram, and Palakkad, in the four states. The agency conducted extensive searches, leading to the seizure of incriminating documents and books related to the proscribed CPI (Maoist) outfit. Six mobiles with SIM cards and ₹1,37,210 cash was also seized.

The case was originally registered by Cyberabad (Telangana) Police following the arrest of Sanjoy Deepak Rao, a Central Committee Member of CPI (Maoist). The police had also seized a revolver with live rounds, forged Aadhaar cards, ₹47,280 cash and other materials from his possession.

NIA, which took over the case in January 2024, found during investigations that Sanjoy was actively working for the banned Naxalite organisation in the tri-junction area of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Under his directions, other frontline members of CPI (Maoist) were operating in the urban areas of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala to promote the activities of the outfit.

Further investigations in the case are continuing.

Speaking to the media, Venugopal said, “NIA has submitted an search warrant and I deny the raids and any connection with the Sanjoy case. I am working as an editor currently and I am grateful for the concern shown by friends. From 5 am to 9:30 am, NIA police conducted a raid at my house, seizing my phone. Heartened by the support from friends both offline and on social media during and after the incident.”

Also Read: Supreme Court grants bail to Telugu poet-activist Varavara Rao

Search related to arrested Maoist

The NIA informed Venugopal that the searches were related to the case of Maoist Sanjoy Deepak Rao, who was arrested by Telangana police in September last year.

“This arrest will be a serious blow to the proscribed Maoist terrorist organisation since a Central Committee member is with us and the whole plan of policymaking, and planning of vulnerable spots will be known by Telangana Police within a short time,” then DGP Anjani Kumar had told South First.

“There has been no fresh recruitment of Maoists for the last eight to nine years and with this arrest, the other state police will be getting the links for further investigation,” he had said.

According to the SIB, Sanjoy Deepak Rao was attracted to extreme left-wing ideology having been influenced by his father who was a communist trade union leader. During his graduation days, he and some of his friends supported the separatist movement of the Kashmir people.

After returning from J&K, he initially worked in the Central Reorganisation Committee (CRC) of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Marxist Leninist (ML) Rawoof group.

Who is Varavara Rao?

On 28 August 2018, Rao was arrested in his home in Hyderabad for his alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon violence that occurred on 1 January 2018.

An FIR filed concerning that event alleged that on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, a programme called the Elgar Parishad had been organised on 31 December 2017.

The Pune Police also claimed that the event was organised by activists having links with the outlawed CPI(Maoist) outfit.

The police alleged that the inflammatory speeches made at this event, including those by Varavara Rao and others, were responsible for inciting violence that occurred the next day.

The stone pelting by a crowd at the gathering resulted in the death of a 28-year old and injuries to five others.