3 ac­tivists sent to 14-day po­lice cus­tody

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Anurag Bende

Pune: A spe­cial court in Pune on Sat­ur­day re­manded ac­tivists Arun Fer­reira, Ver­non Gon­salves and Sudha Bhard­waj to po­lice cus­tody till Novem­ber 6.

The pros­e­cu­tion told the court that the ‘ur­ban Nax­als’ were ac­tively in­volved in the re­cruit­ment of young­sters to carry out Naxal ac­tiv­i­ties. Spe­cial pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor Ujjwala Pawar told the court that they were part of a larger con­spir­acy to threaten the sovereignty and in­tegrity of the coun­try. She re­quested the court to grant 14-day po­lice cus­tody of the ac­cused.

Fer­reira, Gon­salves and Bhard­waj were pro­duced be­fore Dis­trict and Ses­sions Judge KD Vadane. re­view pe­ti­tion filed by Romila Tha­par and oth­ers. Bhard­waj was pro­duced be­fore the Pune court.

Her lawyer Rahul Desh­mukh told the court that she is fac­ing health is­sues and should be pro­vided cer­tain fa­cil­i­ties in­side the po­lice lock-up. “She must be pro­vided with con­di­tions of incarceration, bathing and toi­let fa­cil­i­ties which are on par with those that have been promised to Vi­jay Mallya by the state and cen­tral gov­ern­ment,” Desh­mukh said.

Pawar stated that the po­lice has seized in­crim­i­nat­ing doc­u­ments from all the ac­cused.

“The ma­te­rial seized from these ac­cused re­veals that they were ac­tively in­volved in re­cruit­ing pro­fes­sion­als from in­sti­tutes like TISS and JNU,” Pawar said.

She added that the ac­cused had sent these new re­cruits to in­te­rior parts to carry out Maoist ac­tiv­i­ties. The pros­e­cu­tion claimed that the call data records of the ac­cused con­firmed that they were con­stantly in touch with some of the cen­tral com­mit­tee mem­bers of the banned or­gan­i­sa­tion of CPI (Maoists). “The seized ma­te­rial re­veals that they were not only in touch with the top Maoist lead­ers, but they were also manag­ing their funds,” Pawar said.

The pros­e­cu­tion de­manded po­lice cus­tody of the ac­cused to carry out in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “The in­ves­ti­gat­ing team needs to in­ves­ti­gate where the funds were utilised by the ac­cused which they had re­ceived from Naxal op­er­a­tives,” Pawar said.

How­ever, Desh­mukh ar­gued that the po­lice had al­ready seized the doc­u­ments from the ac­cused and there was no need for po­lice cus­tody. “In the re­mand re­port, the cops have not men­tioned that they need to re­cover any­thing from the ac­cused. The seized doc­u­ments are in the cus­tody of the po­lice for nearly two months, hence po­lice cus­tody is not re­quired,” Desh­mukh said.

An­other de­fence lawyer Sid­dharth Patil, rep­re­sent­ing Fer­reira ar­gued that the SC had or­dered house ar­rest of the ac­cused till Oc­to­ber 26, but the po­lice took them in cus­tody be­fore that which is con­tempt of the court.

Af­ter hear­ing both sides, Vadane granted po­lice cus­tody of the ac­cused till Novem­ber 6.

The de­fence lawyers told the me­di­a­per­sons that they would chal­lenge the or­der in the Bom­bay High Court.

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