Pune: The Pune police demanded 14 days of police custody for three of the five activists who were produced in court on Wednesday. Police also accused them of having connections with separatist elements in Jammu Kashmir.
But session’s court judge, K. D. Wadane, who heard the case, said that they should be taken back to their houses, as the Supreme Court has ordered their house arrest.
On Wednesday, three activists, P. Varavara Rao (Hyderabad), Arun Ferreira (Mumbai) and Vernon Gonsalves were produced in court. The trio was brought to Pune after taking a transit remand from local courts of their respective cities. However, the other two activists, Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj, were kept under house arrest as per the high court order of their respective states.
Public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar told the court that all five of the activists were members of the banned Maoist party and the police need a remand for 14 days to establish their roles in carrying out the activities of the banned party.
She accused Farreira and Gonsalves of recruiting youth for the Maoists movement by engaging with students unions. “They are trying to recruit students from Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. As per letters received by police, more students from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who are called professional revolutionaries, are going to join the movement,” she said.
Rahul Deshmukh, who appeared for the activists Rao and Vernon, said that there was not sufficient proof of why the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was invoked as Supreme Court has said that mere membership of banned party is not enough for invoking UAPA. Farreira, who appeared for himself also opposed police custody, saying cops have all their electronic devices and they don’t need activists.
Sequence of events
Dalit and Bahujan groups celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregoan battle, with the Elgar Parishad at Shaniwar Wada, near Pune on December 31.
Maratha groups reportedly opposed the celebrations. The clash between both turned violent. One person died and several others were injured in the violence. The CM ordered a probe into the incident, which was allegedly orchestrated by Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote and followers of Sambhaji Bhide.
The Maharashtra government gave Bhide a clean chit while Ekbote was arrested for his alleged involvement in the violence and was granted
In June, during a joint operation by the Delhi and Maharshtra police, advocate Surendra Gadling, professor Shoma Sen and activists Mahesh Raut (Nagpur), Sudhir Dhawale (Mumbai) and Rona Wilson (Delhi) were arrested and charged under sections of the UAPA.
In another major crackdown, five activists, a lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Pereira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested.