Activists arrested not for dissenting views but evidence links them with Maoists, Maharashtra police to SC

The apex court while ordering the house arrest of the five activists on August 29 till tomorrow had categorically said that dissent is the safety valve of democracy.

Published: 05th September 2018 01:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th September 2018 11:33 PM   |  A+A-

Activists Arrest

(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)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Maharashtra Police on Wednesday, in an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, said the arrest of the five activists in the Bhima Koregaon case was based on evidence and not because they have dissenting views or ideologies.

The affidavit, filed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Swargate, emphasised that the FIR registered against the activists disclosed commission of serious offences and that incriminating materials emerged against them.

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During the investigation, it also came to light that the accused were involved in planning and preparation of violence. The Pune police, on August 29, had arrested activists Rona Wilson, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao and Vernon Gonsalves during multi-city raids in connection with the December 31 violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon on the outskirts of Pune.

The affidavit urges the court to make the five arrested activists be made available for custodial interrogation as putting them under house arrest would only restrict them physically and they could use the time to destroy evidence and warn potential accused. The court is likely to take up the case tomorrow for hearing. According to the affidavit, the accused were also involved in the process of creating large-scale violence and destruction of property resulting in chaos, as per the CPI [Maoist] agenda. The CPI (Maoist) has been banned since 2009."They (the accused) arranged public meetings under the banner of 'Elgaar Parishad'.

It appears clearly that "Elgaar" is corrupted version of "Yalgaar" which means "the attack"...they were found to be playing a very vital role in the criminal offences,-" the affidavit stated. Describing dissent as the "safety valve of democracy", the Supreme Court on August 29 directed that the five activists be kept under house till September 6, the next date of hearing. The court had also questioned the activists' arrests nine months after the violence between Dalits and upper castes at Bhima Koregaon village.

Maharashtra government said the state was committed to protecting fundamental rights of every citizen and a mere dissenting view, difference in ideology or vehement objections to political thinking, cannot only not be prohibited but should always be welcomed in any democratic country. The top court had issued notices to the Maharashtra government and the police seeking a "factual report" on a petition filed by five leading intellectuals, including historian Romila Thapar and economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain.

Maharashtra police said material found from computers, laptops, pen drives and memory cards of the accused clearly implicated them not only as active members of banned CPI (Maoist) but also brought to light clearly a design to commit criminal offences which had the potential of destabilising society.

Requesting the top court to peruse the evidence submitted in sealed cover, the affidavit said, it would become amply clear that they were found to be committing, planning and preparing for a series of criminal offences in conspiracy with other persons. The activists were arrested under various Sections of the IPC, including 153 (A) for promoting enmity on grounds of religion, race, place or birth, residence, language and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, besides the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.


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