Bhima-Koregaon violence: Pune Police justify arrest of activists; say they have evidence
Police also claimed to have evidence to suggest that the arrested people had links with Kashmiri separatists.
MUMBAI: In an attempt to justify their action, the Pune police on Wednesday stated that they have enough evidence to implicate the activists who were arrested on Tuesday only after a sustained surveillance.
Joint Commissioner of Pune Police Shivajirao Bodkhe, who read out a statement justifying the arrests, said the police has evidence which suggests that the arrested people had links with Kashmiri separatists.
All the activists have links with the banned CPI (Maoist) and have shown a strong intolerance towards the political system, he said. Bodkhe said that the 'evidence' was collected after the arrests of five other activists in June in the Bhima Koregaon probe.
He, however, did not take questions from the media.
According to officials of the Pune police, the 'evidence' includes around 25 to 30 terabytes of data, which has been examined in the presence of the legal and IT cell of Pune police.
Arrested activists were planning a "big conspiracy" to target the "highest political functionaries", the sources said.
Bodkhe also claimed that the banned organization CPI (Maoists) funded the Elgar Parishad and added that after assessing the 'evidence' that allegedly point to Maoist connections, police surveilled the activists for almost a week before conducting raids.
During the search operations, multiple laptops, mobile phones, SIM cards, cameras and other writings and documents have been confiscated.
The activists were charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The police have maintained that these activists were connected to the violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon near Pune in January following the Elgaar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017, the officer said.
Meanwhile, the district and sessions judge K D Vadane of Pune district court ordered Pune police to send Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira back to their residences, where they will be kept under 'house arrest', said Assistant Commissioner of Police, Shivaji Pawar.
"We had contended before the court here to allow them to be put under arrest at a guest house in Pune. However, due to specific directions of the apex court, the judge ordered that they be sent back to their respective cities for house arrest," he said.
The three activists may be sent back to their cities by tomorrow, police said.
Pune police had arrested them and two others - Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha - in connection with an FIR lodged following the 'Elgaar Parishad' conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.