Bhima Koregaon violence 'deep-rooted conspiracy', says Bombay HC, dismisses Anand Teltumbde's plea seeking quashing of FIR
Teltumbde had claimed that he was being falsely implicated in Bhima Koregaon case. In his plea, the activist denied all the charges against him even as the police opposed.
Mumbai: The Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence, in which several rights activists are being investigated by the Pune Police, was a "deep-rooted" conspiracy which had "extremely serious repercussions", the Bombay High Court has said.
The observation was made by a division bench of Justices BP Dharmadhikari and SV Kotwal while dismissing a petition filed by Anand Teltumbde, one of the activists accused in the case, seeking to quash an FIR against him.
Teltumbde had claimed that he was being falsely implicated in the case. In his plea, the activist denied all the charges against him even as the police opposed the same and claimed that they have ample evidence implicating him.
The bench had dismissed the activist's plea on 21 December, the order for which became available on Monday. The bench observed that there was incriminating material against Teltumbde.
"The offence is serious. The conspiracy is deep-rooted and has extremely serious repercussions. Considering the nature and magnitude of the conspiracy, the investigating agency is required to be given sufficient opportunity to unearth the evidence against the accused," the bench said.
Expressing its satisfaction with the probe agency, the bench said that Pune Police had sufficient material against Teltumbde and that allegations against him were not "baseless".
The High Court further noted that initially the probe by the police was limited to the violence that had erupted on 1 January, 2018, a day after the Elgar Parishad event was held at historic Shaniwarwada in Pune.
"However, now the scope of the investigation is not restricted to the Koregaon-Bhima incident, but the activities leading to the incident and subsequent activities as well are the subject matter of the investigation," the bench said.
Therefore, Teltumbde's connection with the banned organisation, Communist Party of India (Maoist), will have to be probed into, it said.
"In the present case, the allegations and material against the petitioner (Teltumbde) travel beyond mere allegations of him being a member of the banned organisation. His participation and active role is spelt out in the material collected by the police," the judges said.
While opposing Teltumbde's plea, Additional Public Prosecutor Aruna Kamat-Pai had submitted to the High Court five letters allegedly written by the accused to each other in which Teltumbde's name was mentioned as an active participant.
Teltumbde's counsel Mihir Desai claimed that the letters cannot be relied upon to prove his complicity, as they name a person 'Anand' or 'Comrade Anand' and hence it cannot be conclusively said that the person referred to in the letters is in fact the petitioner.
However, the bench said it was satisfied that the police has the material to establish the identity of Teltumbde as 'Anand' or 'Comrade Anand', as referred to in the documents and letters submitted, which also form part of the chargesheet.
In November, Pune Police had filed a chargesheet in a local court against ten activists and absconding Maoist leaders in the Elgar Parishad case.
It named ten accused including activists Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhavale, who were arrested in June.
Other five accused named in the chargesheet are Maoist leaders Dipak alias Milind Teltumbade, Kishan Da alias Prashant Bose and Prakash alias Rituparn Goswami.
The police had alleged that inflammatory speeches and provocative statements made by several activists during the Elgar Parishad conclave had contributed to the violence that broke out around Koregaon Bhima village the next day, 1 January.
The particular day marked the bicentennial celebration of the 1818 battle of Koregaon Bhima.
Several activists were named in the FIR lodged on 8 January. Eight more activists, including Teltumbde, were named in another FIR filed in October.
Some of the activists - Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, P Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha - have already been arrested by the police.
According to police, the Elgar Parishad event was funded and supported by Maoists.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Referring to the #ArrestRhea run by the channel during the controversy following SSR's death, the bench asked whether asking public opinion on who should be arrested constituted investigative journalism
The court also directed police to submit investigation papers pertaining to the case in a sealed cover by 5 November, which is when it will hear the matter
The 82-year-old Jesuit priest was arrested from his Ranchi residence and taken to Mumbai by the NIA in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case