Arun is a human rights lawyer and activist. He is an alumnus of St. Xaviers College in Mumbai and hails from a humble background. He ventured into activism during his college days. At the age of 42, he pursued law at Siddharth Law College, Dehradun to provide legal aid to human rights activists and scholars who are languishing in jails under fabricated charges. In his early days, Arun had a keen interest in liberation theology and eventually moved on to develop radical views on politics. He committed himself to the betterment of slum dwellers in Mumbai and actively helped with scribing and reading for blind and orphan children. He is also a caricaturist and his illustrations are published by various publications.
Life and Activism
Arun has affiliations with several organisations, including the Indian Association for People’s Lawyer, Naujawan Bharat Sabha and the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights. His work for Naujawan Bharat Sabha was alleged to be an activity for Naxalites, Times Of India reports. Arun was arrested in 2007 in a much publicised case where he was accused of being a ‘Naxalite’ – a term that has come to be used interchangeably with the term ‘Maoist’ in India- a political movement/group that was banned in 2004. One of the accusations against him was that he was plotting to blow up Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur, where Dr B.R.Ambedkar – chief architect of the Indian Constitution – converted to Buddhism. Over the course of four years, he had ten cases slapped against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)– India’s anti-terror law. None of the charges against Arun were proven in court and he was acquitted of all charges in 2014. He was released from prison after spending four harrowing years behind bars, undergoing brutal torture. During his custody, he was subjected to narco-analysis (which is illegal under Indian and international law). He later wrote a memoir titled “Colors of Cage” in which he recounted his prison experiences and the third-degree torture inflicted upon him.
He was again arrested in the year 2018 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly conspiring to commit violence in the Bhima Koregaon case and for organising the Elgar Parishad Conclave.
Circumstances of Arrest
He was arrested along with 5 other social activists in the Elgar Parishad case. He was put under house arrest for four weeks before his formal arrest on October 27, 2018. He was later moved to a prison and is presently lodged in Taloja Jail in Mumbai.
Charges & Allegations
Arun was charged for allegedly having Maoist links alongside activists and intellectuals like Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, and Gautam Navalkha among others. The FIR was filed under sections 153 A, 120 B, 117 and 34 relating to criminal conspiracy, abetment, and common intention of creating disruption between two different communities. He was also booked under various sections of the draconian anti-terror law, UAPA.
The Bombay High Court on May 4, 2022, rejected the petition filed by eight accused in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case seeking default bail by challenging the Pune sessions court order taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed in the case. The Bench noted that there was no case made out for review as there were no factual errors in the bail order. A Division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar heard the plea filed by Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.