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Elgar Parishad violence: Charge sheet against first arrested activists likely to be delayed

Lodged in jail, there is no hue and cry against their arrests unlike those held later who got house arrest

pune Updated: Sep 01, 2018 17:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,charge sheet,first
(From left) Jignesh Mevani, Prakash Ambedkar, Prashant Dhotha, Radhika Vemula and Umar Khalid during 'Elgar Parishad' at Shanivarwada in Pune. As per the norm, the charge sheet has to be filed within 90 days from the date of arrest. Pune police officials said that since the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 has been invoked in the case, they can seek additional time.(HT FILE PHOTO)

While the first group of alleged ‘Maoist sympathisers’ arrested by the Pune police on June 6 continues to be in police custody, those arrested in the second round in the same Elgar Parishad case on August 28 managed to secure ‘house arrest’ after a public hue and cry and intervention from the Supreme Court.

It was on June 6 that the Pune police made the first round of arrests in the Elgar Parishad case and those taken into custody included Nagpur-based advocate Surendra Gadling, Republican Panthers activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights activist Rona Wilson, a former ‘Prime Minister rural development fellow’ Mahesh Raut and retired Nagpur University professor Soma Sen.

There was no hue and cry against the arrests of these persons who are presently lodged at Yerwada jail. The Pune police officials told HT that they want to confront the suspects of the second round of arrests with those nabbed earlier.

In fact, the charge sheet against them is likely to be delayed as investigators have sought additional time of 90 days from the Pune court.

As per the norm, the charge sheet has to be filed within 90 days from the date of arrest. Pune police officials said that since the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 has been invoked in the case, they can seek additional time.

On August 28, the five prominent activists who were arrested for their alleged Maoist links included lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves. Although three of them were brought to Pune by police teams, they had to be taken back home and placed under house arrest till September 6, following intervention from the Supreme Court amidst a public outcry against their arrest.

Incidentally, no action has been taken by the police against Independent MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mewani and Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid against whom FIRs were registered for inciting people at Elgar Parishad. Similarly, the police have failed to take any action against former Supreme Court judge PB Sawant and ex-Bombay high court judge BG Kolse Patil, both of whom were among the organisers of the Elgar Parishad that took place at Shanirwarwada on December 31 last year.

“These are all political arrests. The government wants to supress the voice of dissent,” said Kolse Patil, who was one of the organisers of the event. Kolse Patil questioned the rationale behind the arrests saying “if the police think Elgar Parishad was organised to create unrest, why didn’t they arrest all the organisers, including me.”

Soon after the first round of arrests, Ravindra Kadam, Pune’s joint commissioner of police, said the arrests were based on evidence “indicating links with banned Maoist outfits”.

The five persons were arrested in the case filed at the Vishrambaug police station for inciting people during the December 31, 2017 Elgar Parishad that led to violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. A large number of Dalits had gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle they won while fighting alongside the British against the Peshwas.

A 28-year-old man was killed in the Dalit-Maratha clashes and vandalism on New Year’s day. An estimated Rs 13 crore of property was damaged or destroyed in the riots.

While Dhawale was one of the organisers of the Elgar Parishad, Sen, accused of being a ‘Maoist sympathiser’, used to teach English at Nagpur university.

Wilson was arrested after the police alleged that a letter written by core committee member of a banned Maoist outfit was recovered from his laptop.

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 16:17 IST