Activists' arrests based on strong evidence, says Maharashtra Police

The Elgaar Parishad held at Pune on December 31, 2017 allegedly led to violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1 this year and the names of some of the accused were mentioned in the January 8 FIR.

Published: 01st September 2018 01:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st September 2018 11:17 AM   |  A+A-

Activists-Arrests

(T-B) Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested in Faridabad, Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Writer Vara Vara Rao from Hyderabad, Journalist Gautam Navlakha from New-Delhi and 61-Year old Vernon Gonsalves from Mumbai. | (File | Agencies)

Express News Service

MUMBAI: There is incriminating evidence against all the activists arrested as part of the probe into the Elgaar Parishad for having links with Maoists, Maharashtra police said on Friday.

The Elgaar Parishad held at Pune on December 31, 2017 allegedly led to violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1 this year and the names of some of the accused were mentioned in the FIR lodged on January 8, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Param Bir Singh said here.

On Tuesday, Pune police searched the homes of nine human rights activists and lawyers and arrested five of them. Those arrested after the near-simultaneous searches were Varavara Rao in Hyderabad; activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai; lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad; and, civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi.

"We have enough evidence against them to seek their custody," Singh said.

"When we were confident that clear links have been established, we moved to take action against these people in different cities. The evidence collected so far clearly establishes links of the arrested activists with Maoist organizations," Singh said while addressing the media.

The police have also accused the arrested activists of having links with separatist and extremist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, Nepal and Manipur, planning to procure weapons, and playing an active role in conspiring to overthrow the Indian government.

"There was a larger conspiracy by Maoist organizations to overthrow the lawfully established Indian government using weapons procured from Russia and China. The arrested accused played an active and crucial role in this conspiracy," Singh said.

"The meetings of the arrested accused were held even in Paris and other international organization, and funds were being organized from there," he said, and added that the arrested accused "wanted to emulate stone-pelting activities in Jammu and Kashmir in the rest of the county and urban areas."

He also claimed that the CPI (Maoist) plot aimed to use overground Maoists to disrupt law and order in the state.

Singh boasted of the authenticity and integrity of the evidence while saying that there was propaganda aimed at discrediting the investigation.

"Every precaution was taken while collecting the evidence. All seizures were made in the presence of witnesses and the accused, and the whole process was videographed and recorded. The evidence was immediately submitted to the forensic lab, where it is being analyzed. The police does not have access to it for it to be tampered. The lab gave a copy of the evidence material to the Pune police, based on which the investigation is being carried out. We have a very very strong case," he said.

"This is as strong a case as we had against Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, who was convicted by the court for Naxal activities," Singh added.

Singh also said that the police had retrieved thousands of documents from seized devices and the forensic lab would be able to retrieve even deleted documents from devices seized from the accused.

Most of the documents are letters exchanged between the accused and Comrade Prakash, who handles communications for Ganapathi, the chief of the central committee of the banned CPI (Maoist), the ADGP said.

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