Bhima-Koregaon clashes: Pune police gets 90 more days to file charge sheet against five persons arrested in June

first_imgA special court on Sunday granted the Pune police a 90-day extension for filing charge sheet against the five activists arrested on June 6 for their alleged links with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes of January 1.The accused — Dalit activist-publisher Sudhir Dhawale, prominent human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, tribal activist Mahesh Raut, Nagpur University English Professor Shoma Sen and activist Rona Wilson — were produced before the court amid tight security in the morning. Arguing for more time to be given to the city police authorities to comprehensively probe the case, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar alleged that the accused received funding amounting to ₹5 lakh for fomenting the Bhima-Koregaon riots.Ms. Pawar presented before the court that the police had evidence of the funds being given to the accused with instructions to aggravate the clashes during the bicentenary celebrations of the 1818 battle of Bhima-Koregaon.The prosecution further submitted that the police needed the additional time to probe links between these five activists and with the other five civil rights activists — Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj in Haryana, and poet Varavara Rao — who were arrested on August 28 in the second multi-city crackdown by the Pune police for alleged Maoist connections.’Urban Naxals’ “A vast quantity of electronic data in the form of CDs, pen drives, hard disks had been seized from the homes of the accused. Furthermore, investigating authorities needed additional time to examine their bank accounts and call records,” said Ms. Pawar during her arguments, stating that the phenomenon of ‘Urban Naxalism’ was more grave and lethal than that in the jungles.Shivaji Pawar, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Swargate Division, who is the investigating officer in the case, said that as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) had been invoked against the accused in this case, the period to file the charge sheet in this particular case could be extended up to 180 days as the investigation was not yet complete.ACP Pawar submitted before the court that the accused were attempting to veer youth from prestigious institutes towards Naxalism. “We have firm evidence of Maoist infiltration in human rights outfits like the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) among others… it is vital to understand who is recruiting students to Maoist ranks and how the Elgaar Parishad was funded,” said ACP Pawar, who has been tasked by the Pune Commissioner of Police to handle the Elgaar Parishad probe.On Saturday, the city police had filed an application before the court, alleging that all five were “active members of the banned CPI-Maoist” and that the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ (held at the Shaniwarwada fort on December 31) was reportedly funded by the proscribed outfit.The Pune police had moved the application on the assumption that the deadline for filing a charge sheet against the five activists ended on September 2.“In our counter-argument, we requested the judge for an adjournment in the case on the calculation that the 90-day deadline for filing the charge sheet ended on September 4 and not on September 2 as stated by the Pune police,” said defence counsel Advocate Rohan Nahar, speaking with The Hindu.On the prosecution’s claim about purported funds being supplied to the accused to aggravate the clashes, he said: “We have nothing to confirm or deny the allegations as we are not furnished with any report of the police’s investigations or their findings. We will come to know of the specific allegations only once the charge sheet is filed.”Meanwhile, authorities at the Yerwada Central Jail — where the five accused are presently lodged — moved an application to move them to separate jails, citing overcrowding and security issues at Yerwada Jail as the  reasons for the proposed transfer of the accused.The two countrywide swoops by the Pune police — in June and in August — were based on an FIR registered at the city’s Vishrambaug Wada police station in connection with speeches made during the Elgaar Parishad.The FIR was based on a complaint by one Tushar Damgude against six participants, including Mr. Dhawale, of the Parishad. Those named in the FIR were members of the Kabir Kala Manch, a 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.last_img

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