Three activists held for alleged Maoist links return home
National

Three activists held for alleged Maoist links return home

The Pune police on Thursday sent three activists, arrested for their alleged links with Maoists, to their homes, in Mumbai, Thane and Hyderabad, as per a directive of the Supreme Court. Activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Telugu poet Varavara Rao reached their homes in the morning.

The action of the Pune Police was because the Supreme Court refused the police custody of the five activists and ordered house arrest till September 6. “The three activists have been placed under house arrest, with our men ensuring compliance,” Pune’s Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, the investigation officer, said. Varavar Rao reached his home in Hyderabad by air in the morning, while Mr. Gonsalves and Ferreira were taken to Andheri and Thane by road. Gonsalves reached home around 7.30 a.m. Ferreira was taken to his home in Charai, Thane, at 6.45 a.m.

“It is a coup against the Constitution. It is a very dire situation, potentially more dangerous than the Emergency,” writer Arundhati Roy said.

Pune police had arrested five activists— lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves — a couple of days back.

Civil society members on Thursday demanded action against the Pune police for a “vicious and malafide attack” against five activists arrested for alleged Maoist links, even as the investigators contended they had digital evidence to lead the probe to its logical conclusion and state government officials said they will present a “strong case” in the Supreme Court.

“We will continue to investigate the case and will take it to its logical end. We have got some leads about people’s links with banned organisation,” said Venkatesham. He said investigating officials have strong “digital evidence”, which will be submitted in the court.

In Delhi, activists called the Tuesday arrests a mockery of the legal system. “It is a coup against the Constitution. It is a very dire situation, potentially more dangerous than the Emergency,” writer Arundhati Roy said, flanked by lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, among others.

The five activists have been charged with criminal conspiracy, creating fear and enmity between groups, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The arrests were part of an investigation into violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra on January 1 during the bicentennial celebration of a British-era war by Dalits. UNI