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Hundreds protest in India against arrest of rights activists

NEW DELHI — About 1,000 people have protested near India’s Parliament demanding the immediate release of five prominent rights activists who were arrested by police for alleged Maoist links in a countrywide crackdown this week.

The protesters warned Thursday that freedom and liberty would be endangered if people don’t resist such measures by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

India’s top court on Wednesday granted some relief to the five activists, ordering that they be kept under house arrest instead of in police custody until it rules next week on a petition challenging their detentions.

Those arrested on 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.