Elgar Parishad'at Shanivarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Elgar Parishad'at Shanivarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Elgar Parishad accused Sudha Bhardwaj urges court to stop harassment of her visitors

A lawyer and civil rights activist, Sudha Bhardwaj was arrested from her house in Faridabad in August 2018 on charges of being an ‘urban Maoist’.
Hindustan Times, Pune | By Shalaka Shinde
PUBLISHED ON AUG 05, 2019 11:26 PM IST

Sudha Bhardwaj, 58, one of the nine people arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, appealed to a court here on Monday to direct the police to stop “harassing” her visitors.

“Ask the police to stop harassing my visitors. I do not have any immediate family like parents or husband. I only have a daughter who visits me sometimes. These are my people,” Bhardwaj told additional sessions judge Ravindra N Pande after four of her visitors were called for questioning.

When Judge Pande asked her what harassment she was referring to, Bhardwaj said, “This is an open court, is it not? Why cannot my visitors attend the hearing in an open court? Why are they being harassed by the police?”

Police allege that the organisers of Elgaar Parishad have active links with the CPI-Maoist, a banned outfit.

A civil rights activist, Bhardwaj, a lawyer by profession has been a visiting professor at the National Law University, Delhi and providing legal assistance in Chattisgarh. She was arrested from her house in Faridabad in August 2018.

Also read: Elgar Parishad: Accused challenge special court’s jurisdiction in case

Four people - two men and two women - had come to the court premises to meet with Bhardwaj who lead their worker union. The four people were identified as Kalyan Patel, Hemin Patel, a couple who claimed to be from Raipur, Chattisgarh, and another couple Ramadheen Sahu and Pramila Sahu, who claimed to have come from Bhilai area of Chattisgarh.

“We have known her for 10-15 years now. We are part of a union called the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha. She helps us with union matters and legal matters,” said Ramadheen Sahu who said he had travelled for two days to meet Bhardwaj. She greeted the visitors but the four people were asked to move away immediately.

Police said the court and jail protocol only allows blood relatives to meet the accused. Therefore, the police asked the four people to produce identification and took them to the court police outpost located in the Shivajinagar court premise. The four were kept in the outpost for almost two hours before assistant commissioner of police Shivaji Pawar, who is investigating the case, arrived and questioned them.

The four people were allowed to go after their names were entered in the register at the police outpost and ACP Pawar had spoken with them.

Bhardwaj was present in court along with eight others accused, including Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferriera, and P Varavara Rao. They were in court for a hearing on the application questioning the power of the court to hear the matter.

However, as the public prosecutor remained absent in court, the matter was posted for the next date.

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