Activists arrested for links with Maoists, Mah to SC

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Sep 2018 08:39:24



There is sufficient evidence to dispel the claim that the activists are arrested for their dissenting views, Maharashtra police told apex court

FIVE Left-wing activists were not arrested for their dissenting views but due to the cogent evidence linking them with the banned CPI(Maoist), Maharashtra Government claimed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The apex court while ordering the house arrest of the five activists on August 29 till Thursday had categorically said that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy”.

The counter affidavit, filed by the Maharashtra police on a plea of historian Romila Thapar and others challenging the arrest of these activists in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, alleged that they were planning to carry out violence in the country and ambush the security forces.

The state police said there was sufficient evidence to “dispel” the claim that they were arrested for their dissenting views. The conviction of Vernon Gonsalves under UAPA few years ago is mentioned to state that the accused persons have criminal antecedents.

The counter affidavit states that the materials collected showed that “they were involved in selecting and encouraging cadres to go underground in ‘struggle area’, mobilising and distributing money, facilitating selection and purchase of arms, deciding the rates of such arms and suggesting the routes and ways of smuggling such arms into India for its onward distribution amongst the cadres. Some of them have suggested training and laying of booby traps and directional mines. They are also found to be providing strategic inputs in furtherance of the objective of armed rebellion as per the strategic document of the banned terrorist organisation namely Communist Party of India (Maoist)”.

It also questioned the locus of the petitioners, Thapar and economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devika Jain, sociologist Satish Deshpande and legal expert Maja Daruwala, and said they were “strangers” to the investigation in the matter.

“When an investigation in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure commences either upon an FIR or a complaint and is underway, it is only the accused persons who can maintain proceedings before the competent courts including the constitutional courts”, states the affidavit.
It is further stated that the writ petition is based on the individual perception of the petitioners regarding the ‘eminence’ of the arrested persons, media reports, and statements by ‘activists and intellectuals” condemning the arrest, and not on the basis of any direct knowledge regarding incriminating facts.

Maharashtra Police had on August 28 raided the homes of the prominent Left-wing activists in several states and arrested at least five of them for suspected Maoist links, sparking a chorus of outraged protests from human rights defenders.

While Telugu poet and Naxal ideologue Varavara Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha was arrested from Delhi. The raids were carried out as part of a probe into an event called Elgar Parishad, on December 31 last year, which had later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon village.

The apex court had on August 29 directed to keep them under house arrest at their homes till September 6. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra will hear the matter on Thursday.