The district and sessions court of Gadchiroli on Wednesday granted bail to Mumbai-based alleged Maoist Arun Thomas Ferreira (40) who was arrested by the anti-naxalite squad in connection with a police-naxalite encounter in the district.
Ferreira, who was arrested along with senior naxalite leader Arun Satya Reddy alias Murali in Nagpur in 2007, was acquitted of 11 different cases, including a case of unlawful activities by the sessions court in Nagpur. However, whenever he was acquitted of one charge and was ordered release, the state police re-arrested him on fresh set of charges.
Mumbai-based Maoist leader Arun Thomas Ferreira. Shende/HT
He was booked by the Gadchiroli police last year after he was acquitted by the local court in another charge.
It was alleged that Ferreira was involved in a police-naxalite encounter near Jafargarh under Korchi tahsil in Gadchiroli district in April, 2007.
Jagdish Meshram, the counselor of Ferreira informed that the principal district and session judge, SS Ahmed granted him a bail on condition that he should report to the nearest police station at Bandra in Mumbai once in a month and a personal bond of Rs. 50,000.
It was an emotional moment for Ferreira and his relatives at the central jail here on Wednesday afternoon after his release. A group of lawyers, his parents and well-wishers received and he immediately proceeded for Mumbai.
Fed up with the alleged bias of the state police and jail authorities for re-arresting him on one case after being acquitted in another, Ferreira filed a petition before the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Tuesday against the state authorities and slapped a compensation of Rs. 25 lakh.
The bench on Tuesday served notices to the state home secretary, the jail authorities and seven other respondents for allegedly harassing him since his arrest in 2007.
Responding to Ferreira’s petition, Justice AH Joshi directed the respondents to reply within the next 20 days.
While filing the petition, Ferreira said that the jail authorities and state police had violated his fundamental rights of liberty. Whenever he was released by the lower court, he was allegedly abducted by the police from the Nagpur central prison premises in connivance with the jail authorities and was re-arrested by them on other charges.
He urged the court to direct the state to compensate him Rs. 25 lakh and book the police and jail authorities who have re-arrested him several times on ‘flimsy’ grounds after acquitting from the lower courts. Farreira also demanded a judicial inquiry by a retired high court judge or a sitting session judge to probe his abduction from prison and re-arrest after release from the court.
Ferreira said that the act of the police and the jail authorities were criminal, arbitrary and malafide. "The authorities were putting him in the jail deliberately without a speedy trial," he contended and sought an apology from the state machinery.
The alleged naxalite was arrested, along with a senior naxalite leader, Murali, on May 8, 2007 at Nagpur when they were trying to hold a secret meeting at Deekshabhoomi. They were charged with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Arms Acts and 353 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The suspected Maoist was since then in custody.
However, he was acquitted from these charges a couple of years ago as the police had failed to substantiate charges. The court also found contradictory evidences from the police in connection with the case.
He was re-arrested with another case of naxalite violence in Gadchiroli immediately after he was released by the court. He even went for an indefinite hunger strike in protest against the "police harassment" at the jail premises, along with other jail inmates.
It was also alleged that the alleged Maoist, along with other suspected naxalites were subjected to third-degree torture during the police interrogation. His soles were whipped with batons while ice was kept on his genitals.
An alumnus of St Xaviers College, Mumbai, Ferreira passed out from the institution in 90s. His college also came out openly in support of him and requested the chief minister Prthviraj Chavan to intervene into the matter a few weeks ago.
It was said that the Bandra resident, Ferreira was proficient in computers and was the in-charge of propaganda and communication network of CPI (Maoist) while Murali was the divisional secretary of North Gadchiroli division of CPI (Maoist).
As police alleged that both the hardcore naxalites hardly disclosed anything to the investigation agency, they were allowed to conduct narco and brain-mapping tests of Ferreira and Murali. However, police did not get much from the tests.
* Forty year old Farreira was arrested along with a senior naxalite leader Arun Satya Reddy alias Murali in Nagpur in 2007 when they were trying to hold a secret meeting at Dikshabhoomi.
* It was alleged that Murali was instrumental in the killing of Madhya Pradesh minister Likhiram Kawre at Balaghat, adjacent of Gondia of Maharashtra, in 1999.
* Ferreira was acquitted of 11 different cases, including a case of unlawful activities by the sessions court in Nagpur. However, whenever he was acquitted of one charge and was ordered release, the state anti-naxal squad re-arrested him on fresh set of charges.
* He was first acquitted from the Nagpur case in December, 2009 as the prosecution failed to prove that he was a naxalite and involved in any unlawful activities. The last he was acquitted from a case in September last year and immediately was re-arrested by the police on the charge of the Jafargarh police-naxalite encounter case in Gadchiroli.
* Parents of Ferreira - Thomas and Ivon Ferreira - a St Martin Road, Bandra resident used to run a hotel in the area.
* His wife Jennifer is a lecturer in a private college at Matunga in Mumbai. He has a nine-year old son.