While opposing the bail pleas of a group of alleged Maoist sympathisers arrested by it in June last year, the Pune police on Monday told a local court that at least one of them, Rona Wilson, was well-connected to convicted Maoist operative and former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba.
Wilson, a Delhi-based activist, was arrested along with four others, on June 6 last year in connection with a case registered against the organisation of Elgaar Parishad, an evening event, in Pune on December 31, 2017. The complaint had claimed that Elgaar Parishad was organised, and funded, by people linked to banned naxalite groups. The police claims that speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad had triggered violence on January 1, 2018, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Wilson and the four others, who have been kept in Yerawada jail, have filed their bail applications in the local court. While opposing their bail, the Pune police, through its lawyer Ujjwala Pawar, told the court that it had found that Wilson held a joint bank account with Saibaba.
It said that during the raids conducted at Wilson’s residence just ahead of his arrest, the police had recovered 24 blank cheques of this account.
Police sources said that after Gadchiroli police had arrested Saibaba, who was later convicted by the court for his links with the CPI-Maoist in 2017, the banned Maoist outfit had handed over his responsibilities to Wilson. Police said the joint bank account and the cheques proved their association.
The court will continue to hear the arguments on the bail applications on Tuesday. Others who had been arrested along with Wilson, and have also applied for bail, are Sudhir Dhawale, leader of the Mumbai-based Republican Panthers Jati Antachi Chalwal, Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, and Mahesh Raut, a former grantee of Prime Minister’s Rural Development fellowship.
This is the same case in which the Pune police had later in the year also raided and arrested some high-profile activists.
These included Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves. The police has booked them under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Amongst the various other people named in the chargesheet, but not under arrest, are top underground former Maoist commander Mupalla Lakshmana Rao, alias Ganapathy, and academician Anand Teltumbde.