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Bhima Koregaon violence: Arrested activists to return home

Prosecution alleges activists part of ‘Maoist plot to wage war against India’, defence lawyers question police crackdown

pune Updated: Aug 30, 2018 15:39 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Bhima Koregaon,Maoist,Activists
Lawyer Arun Ferreira taken to Faraskhana Police station in Pune on Wednesday.(RAHUL RAUT/HT)

PUNE A Pune sessions court ordered the city police on Wednesday evening to make arrangement to send back the activists, who were arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case, to their respective homes.

Sessions judge KD Vadane’s order came at 7.15 pm after the Supreme Court ruled that the five activists arrested for alleged Maoist links were to be kept under house arrest in their respective homes till September 6.

The judge also asked the police to file an affidavit by September 6, citing reasons for the arrest. The arrested persons were taken to the Faraskhana police station for the night with the police stating they would be taken to their respective cities on Thursday.

Three of the five activists arrested by Pune police on Tuesday — lawyers Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and poet Varavara Rao — were produced before the Pune court around 3 pm. The prosecution argued the activists were part of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) group, which was trying to “wage a war” against country to “overthrow” the government.

Vernon Gonsalves taken to Faraskhana police station in Pune on Wednesday. The police said that activists would be taken to their respective cities on Thursday. ( RAHUL RAUT/HT )

The alleged plot came to light after police analysed the electronic devices, documents and other “highly incriminating evidences” seized from the five arrested persons, showing their links with the CPI (Maoist), said Pune deputy commissioner of police Shirish Sardeshpande

“They have shown intolerance to the present political system, and decided to target organisations and their officials and even the highest political functionaries,” Sardesphande said.

Public prosecutor Ujjawala Pawar said an event held at Pune’s Shaniwarwada on December 31, 2017 called Elgar Parishad was organised by members of the CPI(Maoist), who were allegedly in the process of procuring “arms from Nepal and Manipur”. According to the Pune (urban) police, this event stoked the violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon the next day, killing one person and injuring four others.

The activists, according to the prosecution, had allegedly formed what was described as an “anti-fascist front” during a December 2015 meeting of the eastern bureau of the central committee of the CPI (Maoist). The prosecution said the police recovered hard disk, lap top, pen drive, and documents from the arrested activists, which had been sent to forensic examination.

The prosecution produced a number of letters in court.

Pawar submitted to the court a purportedly seized letter with an alleged reference to poet P Varavara Rao. “As per our conversation in April this year, I am in touch with our suppliers in Nepal. Our comrade from Manipur will also assist us. Only V V Rao has the authority to communicate with them for purchase of arms,” the letter allegedly stated. The prosecution also showed a purported catalogue of weapons.

In yet another letter, submitted by Pawar, activist Arun Ferreira was allegedly given the responsibility of recruiting rebellious students from prominent organisations such as the Tata Institute of Social Studies to propagate Maoist ideology. “Ferreira was given responsibility to recruit students and send them for training,” said Pawar.

Prosecution said documents seized from arrested people also allegedly indicated their links with separatist elements in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-east.

Advocate Rohan Nahar, appearing for the arrested activists, said the police action was inappropriate and the sections related to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act were incorrect. He argued that there was no intent to incite violence in anything the activists said and questioned what the police meant by “waging war” against the state.

“Now that the prosecution has claimed they have seized everything, what is the need for custodial interrogation,” said Shahid Akhtar, a defence lawyer.

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 14:48 IST