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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Pune police tight-lipped as Gautam Navlakha’s arrest appears imminent

Navlakha is named in the Elgar Parishad case along with nine other activists and lawyers for alleged complicity in the Elgar Parishad held in Pune and the subsequent Bhima Koregaon violence

pune Updated: Nov 14, 2019 16:32 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
Indian human rights activist Gautam Navlakha
Indian human rights activist Gautam Navlakha (HT PHOTO )
         

With the rejection of anticipatory bail application of Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case accused and New Delhi-based journalist Gautam Navlakha, having ended on Tuesday after nearly a year-and-half, Navlakha could soon be arrested in Delhi.

When asked whether Navlakha would be arrested, investigating officer Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar said, “We are working towards it.”

Navlakha’s interim protection ended on Tuesday with an order passed by Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar in Pune. In his 24 page long order, the judge cited a chargesheet filed in the matter by the Pune police. The court observed that the police have prima facie evidence to show that he is a leader of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), an organisation banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Navlakha is named in the Elgar Parishad case along with nine other activists and lawyers for alleged complicity in the Elgar Parishad held in Pune and the subsequent Bhima Koregaon violence. The prosecution has alleged a larger conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected government.

The nine others who are in custody over their alleged Maoist links include prominent scholars, rights’ activists and others Sudha Bhardwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferriera, and Vernon Gonsalves.

In his 24 page long order, the judge cited a chargesheet filed in the matter by the Pune police. “The acts of the accused were not restricted to creating disharmony between the two communities, but, they were actually indulging in activities which were against the Nation. The incidents at Bhima¬Koregaon were only a part of their larger conspiracy. The investigation revealed that funds were provided by the banned organisation through their members,” read a part of the chargesheet cited in the order.

According to the police, a report on the actions of Navlakha was found in the devices seized from Rona Wilson. The report highlights CPI(M)’s displeasure at some of Navlakha’s moves. The report, among other things, mentioned Navlakha’s meeting with Shakil Bakshi of Islamist Student League (ISL) in Kashmir in order to meet with leaders of Hizabul Mujahideen for collaboration with the CPI(M).

“The report disclosed that the applicant was in contact with Kashmiri separatists and was intending to have working relationship with Hijbul Mujahiddin. It shows that he was acting in the capacity of a Maoist leader,” read the order.

Navlakha’s lawyer, Advocate Ragini Ahuja, had argued that he was in touch with underground members of CPI(M)’s central committee as well as people in Kashmir in the capacity of a journalist. “If really the applicant is only a journalist or a writer, there was no reason for him to establish such hidden contacts with the anti¬-national terrorist organisations. In fact, it is a grave nature of felony,” the order read.

She had also argued that, in fact, the report found in Wilson’s possession was about CPI(M)’s displeasure about Navlakha’s acts against the party’s objectives. To which, the court observed that in light of other evidence against him, “The difference of opinion on some subjects does not lead an inference that he is not a party to the larger conspiracy of the organisation.”

Navlakha was also found mentioned in the statement by Pahad Singh alias Kumarsai, a Maoist leader who surrendered in 2018 shortly after the activists and lawyers were arrested.

“If his activities are taken into account in the light of the document ‘strategy and tactics’ what can be prima facie conceived is that he is an urban Maoist, who in furtherance of the objectives of the banned organisation discharging his responsibilities,” read the court order.

The judge was referring to “Strategy and Tactics of The Indian Revolution”, a document with a foreword from CPI(M), that was found in a opend drive retrieved from VV Rao.

The bail applications of six among the three was denied by the same court while the other three were denied bail by the Bombay High Court.