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'Concocted', 'laughable': Activists reject police charges

Last updated on: September 01, 2018 19:20 IST

IMAGE: Members of Jan Ekta Jan Adhikar Andolan display placards during a protest against the arrests of activists in New Delhi. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo

Sudha Bharadwaj, one of the five activists arrested in multi-city raids by the Maharashtra Police, has rejected outright the claims made by the investigating agency and said a purported letter implicating her was 'totally concocted' to criminalise her and human rights organisations.

The police had Friday claimed that Bharadwaj had written to one 'Com Prakash'.

Reacting to this in a handwritten statement, Bharadwaj, who is under house arrest, said on Friday that the purported letter shown by the Pune Police is a 'mixture of innocuous and publicly available facts and baseless fabrication'.


Various legal and democratic activities such as meetings, seminars, protests have been sought to be de-legitimised by alleging that they are funded by Maoists, she said.

Bharadwaj claimed a number of human rights lawyers, activists and organisations were deliberately named to cast a stigma over them, obstruct their work and incite hatred against them.

"It is a totally concocted letter fabricated to criminalise me and other human rights lawyers, activists and organisations," she claimed.

The activist-lawyer said the 'fabricated letter' had not been brought before either before the Pune Court or the Faridabad Chief Judicial Magistrate while seeking to 'whisk' her to Pune.

In a media briefing Friday, the police had released details of seized letters related to five activists arrested in June in connection with the Bhima Koregoan violence that took place in January.

The police also claimed they have 'conclusive proof' to link Left-wing activists arrested in June and this week to Maoists, saying one of them spoke of a 'Rajiv Gandhi-type event to end Modi-raj'.

Early this week, the police raided the homes of activists and lawyers from five states -- Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Bharadwaj in Fariadabad and Gautam Navalakha in Delhi.

Bharadwaj said she knew Navalakha as a 'senior and respected' human rights activist whose name has been mentioned 'in a manner to criminalise and incite hatred' against him.

The activist-lawyer also said she knew the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group well and had never solicited any funds from them, least of all from any banned organisation.

Meanwhile, the family of Gonsalves on Saturday rejected the police charges against him and termed them 'fabricated' and diversionary.

His son Sagar Gonsalves said charges against the Mumbai resident arrested by Pune Police on August 28 were false.

"I was present when searches and raids were conducted at our home and I know what the police have seized," said Sagar Gonsalves.

He said the police were 'talking in the air' when they made the allegations at their press conference on Friday.

"I could not stop laughing when the police were levelling false charges with the so called letters," he said.

The activist's wife Susan Abraham, who is a lawyer, called the police action a ploy to divert attention from the real culprits behind the Koregaon-Bhima violence that took place on January 1.

"The letters read out by the police during the media briefing are manufactured. None of these letters were filed or submitted to the court," she said on Saturday.

She accused the police of not following the set procedure for carrying out such probes.

"The police have not followed the procedure established by the cyber laws for seizure of electronic data,” she said.

"The police have planted these fabricated letters because none (of them have been) filed in court and this is against GRs (government resolutions) and the Bombay High Court judgment prohibiting leaking information to media during investigation," she said.

Revealing evidence in a case is against the basic principles of criminal investigation and violates the rights of an accused, she said.

"This all is being done to divert attention from the real culprits behind the Koregaon-Bhima violence which is the Bhide-Ekbote gang," Abraham added.

Milind Ekbote of Samast Hindu Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide, the founder of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, are accused of orchestrating the violence. But both have denied these allegations.

Abraham said that 'imaginary assassination plots' were being 'invented' to divert attention from the killings of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh.

She claimed it was being done to deflect from demands being made to ban the right-wing Sanatan Sanstha, which has been accused of having links with people arrested in connection with these killings as well as the seizure of explosives by the Maharashtra anti-terror squad.

Human rights activist Anand Teltumbde also refuted the Maharashtra police claim that he had attended a convention in Paris which was allegedly funded by Maoists and dismissed as outrageous charges of Naxal link.

Teltumbde, who teaches at a management institute in Goa, was among the activists and lawyers whose homes were raided by the Pune police on August 28 on suspicion they had links with Maoists.

"These are all false allegations to malign and defame my image. I dont know any Maoist leader and I am not having any relation with this," Teltumbde told PTI over the phone.

"I keep going abroad for academic conferences. It is all on official invitations and everything is well documented," he said.

Teltumbde said, "I dont know any Maoist leaders and I have not received any letters.

"Police should think before levelling allegation, they should see my background, the work I which I did, I don't have time to do all these things," he said, adding "this is all outrageous".

"My profession and whatever I do is all in public domain. This is a deliberate attempt by the police to trouble common people. I keep writing on various issue and I will be always critical," he said.

Teltumbde alleged harassment of activists by the police.

"Only because the police have rights and they will do anything they want, this is not done," he said, alleging "they are harassing us by doing such things".

A nephew of Telugu poet Varavara Rao claimed on Saturday said the Maharashtra Police's 'conclusive proof' and all the evidence is 'cooked up'.

He said there was nothing new in the claims of the police.

"All this was said in June. It is nothing new. It is illegal to hold a press conference when the Supreme Court asked the evidence to be submitted on September 6," Venugopal, a nephew of Varavara Rao told PTI.

He said the matter was sub judice and termed it contempt of court.

"This police officer does not have a right to hold a press conference," he said.

The police officer knew that the 'evidence' was cooked up and he had gone to the press only to defame those arrested, he claimed.

The apex court asked him to give details to it and not to the press.

"It set one week duration. Within the one week, he comes out to press, just to defame these people. This is trial by media, conducted by the police," he said.

"I'm not going into merits and demerits of this evidence. That is not evidence... That is concocted, fabricated," he said.

The Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and even the Shiv Sena had issued statements in June, saying the evidence being cited by the police were all cooked up and politically-motivated, Venugopal claimed.

Addressing a press conference in Mumbai on Friday, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Param Bir Singh said an email exchanged between activist Rona Wilson and a Maoist leader, spoke of ending "Modi-raj" with a 'Rajiv Gandhi-type incident'.

Wilson was arrested in Delhi in June in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence in Maharashtra in January.

Besides Wilson, other activists-lawyers were arrested in June by the Pune Police are Sudhir Dhawale (from Mumbai), Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut (all from Nagpur).
All the activists arrested in June and early this week had links with Maoists, Singh had said.

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