Pune: Left-wing activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, accused of having Maoist links, were taken into custody by Pune police on Friday, hours after their bail pleas were rejected by a local court here, an official said.
The bail plea of civil right activist Sudha Bharadwaj was also rejected and she is likely to be taken into custody on Saturday. All three activists were under house arrest, which ended on Friday.
Additional sessions judge K.D. Vadane rejected the bail applications filed by the three activists. The court also rejected an application of the activists seeking a week-long extension of house arrest.
In his order rejecting the bail pleas of the accused, Judge Vadane said that the investigation against the accused was at a “very crucial stage” and that “material collected by the investigating officer prima facie revealed their involvement in alleged unlawful activities against the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India.”
Dhairyasheel Patil, senior counsel representing Mr Gonsalves, said that they will appeal against the lower court’s judgment in the Bombay high court.
The activists were first arrested on August 28 along with poet-activist Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha over their alleged links with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their roles in the controversial ‘Elgaar Parishad’ and the subsequent Bhima-Koregaon clashes.
Joint commissioner of police Shivaji Bodakhe said, “Following the court’s rejection of their bail pleas, our teams took Mr Ferreira and Mr Gonsalves into custody from their homes residences in Mumbai. They will be produced before a Pune court tomorrow (Saturday).”
Police sources said that Ms Bharadwaj, who has been under house arrest in Haryana’s Faridabad, is likely to be taken into custody on Saturday in keeping with legal rules that prohibit taking women into custody after sunset.
The Pune court’s order rejecting the activists’ bail plea took into account the prosecution and the Pune police’s submission of allegedly incriminating letters (addressed by one Comrade Prakash to a fellow Maoist) and e-mails which hinted at the involvement of the three activists in recruiting cadre for the outlawed CPI (Maoist).
Last week, public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar, arguing against the bail pleas, had submitted two sensational e-mails before the court that were allegedly “intercepted communications” exchanged between top Maoist leader Ganapathy alias Comrade Chandrashekhar and Mr Rao in July this year.
The city police has claimed that the mails were allegedly exchanged after the June 6 arrest of activist Sudhir Dhawale, prominent human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, tribal activist Mahesh Raut, Nagpur University English professor Shoma Sen and activist Rona Wilson.
The two countrywide swoops by the Pune police, in June and in August, that led to the arrest of all the activists were based on an FIR registered at the city’s Vishrambaug Wada police station in connection with ostensibly provocative speeches made during the controversial ‘Elgaar Parishad’ held on December 31 last year — a day before clashes erupted in Bhima-Koregaon.
The FIR was based on a complaint by Tushar Damgude against six participants, including Mr Dhawale, of the Parishad. Those named in the FIR were members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) — a radical Dalit cultural troupe.
The complaint had accused the KKM activists of making a number of “inflammatory” speeches and delivering “socially divisive” presentations during the course of the troupe’s performance and recitals at the ‘Elgaar Parishad’, which lasted nearly eight hours and witnessed the participation of thousands of persons from more than 250 progressive social outfits including several Left-leaning and Ambedkarite groups across Maharashtra.