Kore­gaon-Bhima vi­o­lence: SC ex­tends house ar­rest of ac­tivists

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS -

THE Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day ex­tended the house ar­rest of five rights ac­tivists who were ar­rested from sev­eral cities in con­nec­tion with the Kore­gaon-Bhima vi­o­lence case for an­other five days.

A bench of Chief Jus­tice Di­pak Misra and Jus­tices AM Khan­wilkar and DY Chan­drachud ad­journed the hear­ing on the plea filed by his­to­rian Romila Tha­par and four oth­ers to Septem­ber 17, af­ter it was sub­mit­ted that se­nior ad­vo­cate Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi, who is rep­re­sent­ing the pe­ti­tion­ers, was busy in an­other court.

Ear­lier, Singhvi ap­peared be­fore the bench and sub­mit­ted that the hear­ing on Tha­par’s plea be con­ducted af­ter noon as he has to ap­pear in an­other mat­ter. The court was hear­ing the plea filed against the ar­rest of the ac­tivists —Var­avara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Ver­non Gon­salves, Sudha Bharad­waj and Gau­tam Navlakha.

Prom­i­nent Tel­ugu poet Rao was ar­rested on Au­gust 28 from Hy­der­abad, while ac­tivists Gon­salves and Ferreira were nabbed from Mum­bai, trade union ac­tivist Sudha Bharad­waj from Farid­abad in Haryana and civil lib­er­ties ac­tivist Navlakha from Delhi.

The Ma­ha­rash­tra po­lice had ar­rested them on Au­gust 28 in con­nec­tion with an FIR lodged fol­low­ing a con­clave, ‘El­gaar Par­ishad’ held on De­cem­ber 31 last year that had later trig­gered vi­o­lence at Kore­gaon-Bhima vil­lage.

The Supreme Court had on Septem­ber 6 taken strong ex­cep­tion to the state­ments made to the me­dia by an As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice of Pune and said he was cast­ing as­per­sions on the apex court by say­ing it should not have en­ter­tained the pe­ti­tion against the ar­rests. The pe­ti­tion was filed by Tha­par, economists Prab­hat Pat­naik and De­vaki Jain, so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor Satish Desh­pande and hu­man rights lawyer Maja Daruwala. The Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment had told the court that the pe­ti­tion­ers were “strangers” to the mater and ques­tioned their lo­cus. Its coun­sel had said there was enough ev­i­dence in­clud­ing the ma­te­ri­als taken from the ac­tivists’ com­put­ers and other sources which be­lied the per­cep­tion of the pe­ti­tion­ers about those ar­rested.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate Har­ish Salve, the coun­sel for Tushar Damgude who had filed the FIR in the Kore­gaon-Bhima vi­o­lence, had op­posed the plea of Tha­par and said it could have been raised in the mag­is­trate’s court by the af­fected par­ties.

Ear­lier, the Ma­ha­rash­tra gov­ern­ment had filed its re­sponse to the plea claim­ing the five rights ac­tivists were ar­rested due to the co­gent ev­i­dence link­ing them with the banned CPI (Maoist) and not be­cause of their dis­sent­ing views.

The state’s re­sponse had come in the back­drop of the apex court, while or­der­ing the house ar­rest of the five ac­tivists on Au­gust 29, cat­e­gor­i­cally stat­ing that “dis­sent is the safety valve of democ­racy”. The court had ques­tioned the state po­lice’s move to ar­rest these ac­tivists nine months af­ter the in­ci­dent and said all of them were re­puted cit­i­zens and “sti­fling the dis­sent” was not good.

The plea by Romila Tha­par, Prab­hat Pat­naik, De­vaki Jain, Satish Desh­pande and Maja Daruwala has sought an in­de­pen­dent probe into the ar­rests and their re­lease

Po­lice per­son­nel keep vigil at the res­i­dence of so­cial ac­tivist Arun Ferreira in Thane, Wed­nes­day,

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