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Arrested activists were planning large-scale violence, Maharashtra tell Supreme Court

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said there was “cogent evidence” that the five arrested activists were planning on creating large-scale violence and destruction of property.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2018 22:20 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Activists arrested,Maharashtra
Dalit rights activists and intellectuals shout slogans against the police raid and arrest of five human right activists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) during a protest in New Delhi on August 29, 2018.(AFP)

Defending the action against five activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, the Maharashtra government Wednesday told the Supreme Court the arrests were made because there was “cogent evidence” linking the activists with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and not because of their dissenting views.

The state government has filed an affidavit in response to a petition by historian Romila Thapar and four others who have said the arrests were aimed at muzzling dissent. The state’s response came in the backdrop of the apex court, while ordering the house arrest of the five activists on August 29 until Thursday, categorically stating that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy”.

Evidence gathered against the activists “clearly show that they were involved in selecting and encouraging cadres to go underground in ‘struggle area’, mobilizing and distributing money, facilitating selection and purchase of arms, deciding the rates of such arms and suggesting the routes and ways of smuggling such arms into India for its onward distribution amongst the cadres,” reads the affidavit filed by the Maharashtra government.

On August 28, Vara Vara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bhardwaj and Gautam Navlakha were arrested for suspected Maoist links. The raids were a part of a probe into a conclave - Elgar Parishad - held in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on December 31, 2017 that allegedly triggered violence the next day.

The affidavit says the five were not arrested for “dissenting views or difference in their political or other ideologies”. “They are involved in not only planning and preparing for violence but were in the process of creating large scale violence, destruction of property resulting into chaos,” reads the affidavit filed by ACP Shivaji Panditrao Pawar, Pune.

The police also questioned the locus of Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociologist Satish Deshpande and legal expert Maja Daruwala, dubbing them as “strangers” to the probe in the matter.

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 13:21 IST