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Elgaar Parishad case: Money routed through ‘hawala’ used for Maoist activities, Pune police tell court

The activists arrested in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case were in touch with Central Committee members of the banned CPI-Maoist, Pune City Police told a special court in Pune on Friday.

Written by Chandan Haygunde | Pune |
Updated: October 20, 2018 9:56:56 am
The accused being brought to court. (File)

The activists arrested in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case were in touch with Central Committee members of the banned CPI-Maoist, and they had discussed channelling funds for Maoist activities through hawala transactions, Pune City Police told a special court in Pune on Friday.

While opposing the bail applications filed by the accused, District Government Pleader Ujjwala Pawar told Special Judge K D Wadne that a letter, “seized from the accused”, mentions that another accused Surendra (Gadling) met with a Central Committee member of the CPI-Maoist.

The letter allegedly states that Surendra “informed the central committee member that funds had been made available to cadres through hawala”. She claimed that police have gathered corroborative evidence to prove that Surendra was in Delhi in April 2017, when the meeting is suspected to have taken place.

She told the court that the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case were involved in the recruitment of “PR”, or professional revolutionaries, for CPI-Maoist. She also read out a purported letter between Gadling and accused P Varavara Rao, allegedly mentioning details of Maoist funds and incidents such as the burning of several vehicles in Surjagad in Gadhchiroli.

Rao was one of the five rights activists arrested by Pune police on August 28 for their alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist, in connection with a case filed over Elgaar Parishad, a one-day conference held in Pune on December 31, 2017, to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Police have claimed the Parishad was funded by CPI-Maoist and the accused played a role in it. All the activists — Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj — were charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). They were later put under house arrest by the Supreme Court.

Police had earlier arrested activist Rona Wilson from Delhi, former Prime Minister Rural Development fellow Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen and Gadling on June 6 in connection with the same case. All of them are lodged in Yerawada jail.

Four underground Maoist operatives, Milind Teltumbde, Prakash alias Ritupam Goswami, Manglu and Deepu, were named as accused in the case.

Sen, Bharadwaj, Gadling, Ferreira and Gonsalves have applied for bail before a Pune court.

During the hearing, Pawar further alleged that the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) was a front organisation of the CPI-Maoists and was funded by the banned outfit. She submitted a letter, alleged to be a communication between accused Surendra Gadling and one Kattam Sudarshan, head of the Central Regional Bureau of the CPI-Maoist, who carries a reward of Rs 1 crore. She said the communication allegedly shows that Gadling demanded Rs 10.5 lakh from top Maoist leader Sudarshan for IAPL and CRPP (Committee of Release of Political Prisoners).

She said Rona Wilson was the secretary of CRPP, while Sudha Bharadwaj was vice-president of IAPL, and Surendra Gadling and Arun Ferreira were members.

Pawar said the communications “seized from the accused” also mention the names of advocate Murugan and R Bhalla, an executive member of IAPL, who have faced arrests in other states over alleged Maoist links. She also submitted before the court details from more letters which, she claimed, were seized from the accused.

These letters allegedly mention IAPL meetings in Chennai, Nagpur and Delhi. Pawar alleged that underground Maoist operatives attended an IAPL conference against UAPA. Pawar also alleged that some IAPL members worked as a “courier” for the Maoist group through Gadling.

Pawar said the IAPL had played a role in setting up “fact-finding committees” after Maoists were killed in police encounters, claiming that this was done to come up with reports showing those killed by police were local tribals. Pawar also read out the content of a “seized letter” in court that named advocate Parvez Imroz, who allegedly has links with separatists in Kashmir.

Pawar also submitted photographs of Ganpathy, general secretary of CPI-Maoist, and Deepak alias Milind Teltumbde, Central Committee members of the party, before the court. She claimed, “Milind Teltumbde’s photograph has been recovered from the laptop of Rona Wilson…”.

She claimed that Teltumbde was mentioned as ‘Comrade M’ in the letters, and read out a letter allegedly sent to Wilson by ‘Comrade M’, dated January 2, 2018, a day after the Koregaon Bhima violence.

Pawar alleged this communication had “unearthed” the conspiracy by CPI-Maoist to create law and order problems. She also told the court that bail applications filed by the accused in Pune were a replica of the petitions that had been filed before the Supreme Court earlier. She submitted that the Supreme Court had already rejected demands to form a special investigation team to probe the case.

“The purpose of the Elgaar Parishad case is to probe the conspiracy and activities of banned CPI-Maoists. There is prima-facie evidence against the accuse,d that they are active members of CPI-Maoist,” she said. Reading out a communication allegedly seized from the accused, in which they allegedly congratulated the CP-Maoist members for the killing of 26 CRPF men in Burkapal in Bastar last year, Pawar said, “What other evidence is required to reject the bail?”

The arguments by prosecution would continue during the next hearing.

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