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Koregaon-Bhima: 2 activists taken into custody after court rejects bail

Last updated on: October 26, 2018 20:36 IST

Left-wing activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, accused of having Maoist links, were taken into custody by Pune police on Friday, hours after their bail pleas were rejected by a Pune court, an official said.

District and Sessions Judge (Special Judge) K D Vadane rejected the bail applications of Ferreira and Gonsalves along with that of Sudha Bharadwaj, observing that the material collected by the police, on the face of it, shows their alleged links with Maoists.


Bharadwaj could be taken into custody on Saturday, the official said.

All three are already under house arrest but the Pune police was not able to get their custody because of stay ordered by various courts.

Following the rejection of their bail pleas, the Pune police took Ferreira and Gonsalves into custody.

The Pune police had arrested Ferreira, Gonsalves, Bharadwaj and two others -- Telugu poet Varavara Rao and activist Gautam Navlakha -- in August this year in connection with the probe into violence in Koregaon Bhima in Pune on Januuary 1 this year.

The police had claimed to have seized emails exchanged between them and top Maoist leaders.

Navlakha was later released by the Delhi high court.

The Bombay high court on Friday extended interim protection from arrest granted to him till November 1, when his plea seeking guashing of FIR will be heard.

District and Sessions Judge Vadane noted that it is not disputed that Bharadwaj is a professor at National Law University, Ferreira a lawyer and cartoonist working for human rights and Vernon a social activist, and they were working for the uplift of the marglialised.

"However, under the pretext of doing social work, human rights work, they are doing work for a banned organization (CPI-Maoist) and (were) involved in the activities with intent to threaten unity, integrity, security, sovereignty of India," he said.

"At this stage, on the basis of the material collected by the investigation officer, prima facie it reveals that there is a connection of the present accused with the banned organization (CPI-Maoist)," the judge said in Friday's order.

"Moreover, the investigation is at a crucial stage," he said.

The material collected by the police shows that the alleged crime was not merely about "disturbance of public order", the judge said.

"Such anti-national activities throw a challenge to the very integrity and sovereignty of the country and its democratic policies," said the judge.

The defence lawyers had argued that all the accused are human rights activists.

The judge dismissed the defence's claims about procedural irregularities during the raids on the activists' houses.

The court also rejected the defence's argument that right-wing leader Milind Ekbote, accused of instigating the violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district on January 1, had been granted bail and so the accused in the present case too should be released.

The two cases are different, said the judge.

After the bail pleas were rejected, the defence lawyers sought a week's stay on implementation of the order so that they could file an appeal in the high court, but the judge did not grant a stay.

Following this, police took Gonsalves and Ferreira into custody, said assistant commissioner of police Shivaji Pawar, who is the investigating officer.

Police alleged that Maoists had supported the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31 last year, which led to the violence. The accused were put under house arrest on Supreme Court's orders.

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