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Bhima Koregaon violence: Activists arrested in police raids in 5 states over alleged Maoist links

Prominent lawyers and activists searched in multiple cities in connection with police investigation of their alleged Maoist links.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2018 21:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Bhima Koregaon,Naxals,urban Naxals
Revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, center, followed by Deepa, niece of Maoist leader Kishenji who was killed Thursday, walk to lodge a complaint against his killing, in Kolkata, India.(AP File Photo)

The Pune police carried out searches at residences of prominent lawyers and activists in five states across India in connection with their investigation into the alleged Maoist links with the Elgar Parishad held in the city on December 31, 2017, which was followed by large scale violence at Bhima Koregaon area.

It also arrested at least six of the people raided - revolutionary writer P. Varavara Rao, as per sources close to his family and a local journalist in Hyderabad, activist Gautam Navlakha in Delhi, lawyers Arun Pereira, and Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai and civil rights lawyer and trade unionist Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad, reported ANI.

All have charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

While the Pune police got transit remand of Navlakha till August 30, the Delhi high court directed the he should not be taken away from the national capital till it hears the matter on Wednesday morning, reported PTI.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said Navlakha will remain at his residence under police guard and be allowed to meet only his lawyers.

The court also said this will be the first matter to be considered by it on Wednesday morning as it heard a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Navlakha by his advocate Warisha Farasat after he was picked up from his Delhi home this afternoon.

According to senior police officials, the searches were conducted at eight places simultaneously in Hyderabad, Ranchi, Delhi, Faridabad and Mumbai.

A team of Pune police on Tuesday morning searched the Mumbai residences of Gonsalves and Pereira, who were representing the case of five persons arrested previously for alleged Maoist connections.

One team also searched the house of Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi while another team was at the house of revolutionary writer and Maoist ideologue Rao in Hyderabad.

Rao’s family said that he was later arrested by the police, following searches for nearly eight hours at his house in Gandhi Nagar and those of seven others, including two journalists close to him and a professor at English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), in different parts of the city.

Following his arrest, Varavara Rao was shifted to the government-run Gandhi Hospital for a medical check-up.

One of the journalists, Tekula Kranthi, was also arrested after police reportedly seized his laptop and several documents allegedly showing his connections with the Maoist party.

Officials said they started the searches at 6 am. “We have recovered some documents, laptops and other material. The scrutiny of seized items is on,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity.

Officials told Hindustan Times that names of those whose houses are being searched came up during the interrogation of five persons arrested in June - Sudhir Dhawale, a member of the Republican Panthers; Surendra Gadling, a prominent lawyer; Rona Wilson, an activist; Mahesh Raut, former Prime Minister rural development fellow and Soma Sen, a retired Nagpur University professor.

These five were arrested for having close Maoist links after they allegedly made “provocative” speeches at the Elgar Parishad on December 31 to commemorate 200 years of the Koregaon Bhima battle, triggering violence at Koregaon Bhima village in the district, according to an FIR registered at the Vishrambaug Police Station after the event.

First Published: Aug 28, 2018 15:04 IST