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Families of arrested activists say police evidence ‘fabricated’

Activist Vernon Gonsalves’s wife Susan Abraham called the arrests a ploy to divert attention from the real culprits behind the Koregaon-Bhima violence.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2018 22:46 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
New Delhi/Mumbai/Hyderabad
Susan Abraham,Rights activists arrested,Sudha Bharadwaj
People stage protest to condemn the arrest of activists at Azad Maidan, in Mumbai on September 1.(HT Photo)

Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj and families of other activists arrested in the recent raids have dismissed the evidence produced by Maharashtra Police to link them with Maoists as “fabricated”.

Bharadwaj, one of the five activists arrested by Maharashtra Police, said a purported letter implicating her was “totally concocted” to criminalise her and human rights organisations.

The police had claimed Friday that Faridabad-based Bharadwaj had written to one “Com Prakash”.

Reacting to this in a handwritten statement, Bharadwaj said the “fabricated letter” had not been brought before the Pune Court or the Faridabad Chief Judicial Magistrate while seeking to “whisk” her to Pune.

In a media briefing in Mumbai, the police had released details of seized letters allegedly linking the arrested activists to the violence in Koregaon-Bhima in January.

On Tuesday, the police arrested Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Bharadwaj in Faridabad and Gautam Navalakha in Delhi.

The family of Vernon Gonsalves also said the charges were “fabricated”.

“I was present when searches and raids were conducted at our home and I know what the police have seized,” his son Sagar Gonsalves said Saturday.

“I could not stop laughing when the police were levelling false charges with the so called letters,” he said, referring to the police press conference.

The activist’s lawyer wife Susan Abraham called the arrests a ploy to divert attention from the real culprits behind the Koregaon-Bhima violence.

“The letters read out by the police during the media briefing are manufactured. None of these letters were filed or submitted to the court,” she said.

She accused the police of not following the set procedure for carrying out such probes.

“The police have not followed the procedure established by the cyber laws for the seizure of electronic data,” she said.

In Hyderabad, Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s nephew Venugopal said the evidence presented by Maharashtra Police to link the arrested activists to Maoists was “cooked up”.

“All this was said in June. It is nothing new,” he told PTI Saturday.

He termed the police press conference contempt of court, saying the matter was sub judice and the Supreme Court had asked the evidence to be submitted on September 6.

The Supreme Court has ordered that the five activists be kept under house arrest till then.

“This police officer does not have a right to hold a press conference,” Venugopal said, referring to Maharashtra’s Additional Director General of Police (law and Order) Parambir Singh.

The police have claimed they have “conclusive proof” to link Left-wing activists arrested in June and this week to Maoists, saying one of them spoke of a “Rajiv Gandhi-type event to end Modi-raj”.

This threat allegedly figured in an email exchanged between Rona Wilson, an activist arrested in June, and a Maoist leader.

The Maharashtra Police raids were carried out as part of a probe into the ‘Elgaar Parishad’, an event organised in Pune on December 31, 2017, which allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village in the district the next day.

Also on Saturday, human rights activist Anand Teltumbde refuted the Maharashtra police claim that he attended a convention in Paris allegedly funded by Maoists.

Teltumbde, a Dalit writer who teaches at a management institute in Goa, was among the activists and lawyers whose homes were raided by the Pune police on August 28.

“I keep going abroad for academic conferences. It is all on official invitations and everything is well documented,” he told PTI.

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 22:33 IST