Even as Pune Police on Wednesday demanded 14 days' police custody of three activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, Judge KD Wadane of Sessions Court of Pune said that they should be taken back to their houses as Supreme Court has ordered their house arrests.
The police has accused Rao of trying to establish contacts in Nepal to get weapons. It has also accused Gonsalves and Ferreira of recruiting youth for banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) to wage war against the government. Public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar also alleged that Elgar Parishad was established in the banned party’s effort to spread its influence in Maharashtra and also accused the activists of having connections with separatists in Jammu and Kashmir.
Gonsalves, Ferreira and Rao were brought to Pune after taking transit remand from local courts from respective cities. Rao, Ferreira and Gonsalves were produced at the Sessions Court at 3 pm.
On 31 December, 2017, the Elgar Parishad was held in which MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani, activist Sudhir Dhawale, among others gave speeches. Riots took place at Bhima Koregoan, 40 km from Pune, on the next day. On 8 January, 2018, 37-year-old Tushar Damgude lodged an FIR with the Pune Police, alleging that the Elgar Parishad caused riots in Bhima Koregoan. On 6 June, Pune Police arrested five activists Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Dhawale. The police probe against these five activists and electronic devices received from them led the police to arrest the five activists on Tuesday.
Pawar also alleged that the arrested activists were instrumental in opening an anti-fascist front to create a base in urban areas, recruit students, give them training in forests for a war against the state.
The prosecutor also mentioned the letter, which the police claim was recovered from Rona Wilson, that reportedly spoke of the assassination plot against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pawar also said Rao had contacted people in Nepal and Manipur to get weapons and around 4 lakh rounds of ammunition. She said, “As per letters, Rao has talked to judicial members and politicians in Telangana for the release of G Saibaba, the professor who is serving a sentence under UAPA in Nagpur Jail. Saibaba is an important functionary in the party.”
She also said that the Maoist party had ordered its members to carry out violent activities at places with less security and that Ganpaty, who is general secretary of the banned party, had lauded recent attacks on security personnel by Maoists in placs like Bastar and Gadchiroli. She added that Ganpaty had also praised efforts of Ferreira and Gonsalves to recruit more students for the revolutionary movement.
The prosecutor said that Ferreira was putting a lot of effort in recruiting youth for the Maoist movement by engaging with student unions through art-based exhibitions, cartoons having messages of state's oppression. According to her, he was trying to reach out to students from Pune, Mumbai and Delhi and due to his efforts, Mahesh and Nandu, two students joined the movement. She said that as per letters received by the police, more students from Tata Institute of Social Sciences were going to join the movement.
Pawar said that the activists made false reports and spread them among people to create propaganda against the government.
Rohan Nahar, the lawyer who appeared for Rao and Gonsalves, said that there is not enough proof of why the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was invoked, as the Supreme Court has said that mere membership of a banned party is not enough for invoking UAPA. There should be proof that accused has incited violence against the state.
Ferreira, who appeared for himself, also opposed the police custody, saying police had all electronic devices taken from them for probe and did not need activists' custody.
The defence lawyer also brought up the issue that Pune police, before arresting activists, gave a panchnama and orders of arrests in Marathi and thus, the activists could not understand that. Pawar said that the activists were explained the content in the orders in English and regional languages and the police had video-graphed the process.
Updated Date: Aug 29, 2018 23:03 PM