SURENDRA Gadling, one of the charge-sheeted accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, told a Pune court on Monday that copies of all the electronic data purportedly seized during raids by police and a copy of the chargesheet should be given to all the accused.
Gadling, one of the five accused held in the first round of arrests in the case in June, was brought to the court for a hearing on various applications filed by him. He, along with activists Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen and former Prime Minister’s Rural Development fellow Mahesh Raut, is accused of having links with the banned outfit CPI-Maoist.
Last week, Pune City Police filed a chargesheet against the five accused, as well as five other “absconding” accused. Police have said that the absconding accused — Milind Teltumbde alias Deepak, Prashant Bose alias Kishan da, Rituparn Goswami alias Prakash, Deepu and Manglu — are members of CPI-Maoist.
Earlier, Pune City Police had told the court that during the raids conducted by it during the course of the investigation, around 25 TB data had been recovered from various electronic devices that belonged to the accused. The Pune police’s chargesheet, and the prosecution’s case, relies on this electronic data.
In court on Monday, Gadling said, “I want to demand that along with the chargesheet, the electronic data that police say they have seized, should also be handed over to me. Without that, the charge sheet is incomplete, and an incomplete chargesheet is ground for bail”.
However investigating officer of the case, ACP Shivaji Pawar, said, “All the documents that we have relied upon have been made part of the chargesheet.”
District Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor Ujwala Pawar said that making copies of the data will take time, and some of the data was still with the Forensic Sciences Laboratory. The prosecution will soon be filing its say on Gadling’s demand.
Meanwhile, the judicial custody of activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, who were arrested in the same case on August 28, was extended by the court by 14 more days.
While Bharadwaj was produced before the court on Monday, Gonsalves and Ferreira were not brought to the court.
During the hearing, some members of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, of which Bharadwaj is an office-bearer, were present in court. Kavita Shrivastava of PUCL said, “We strongly condemn the brutal violence against the Dalits who were marching towards Koregaon Bhima on January 1. Now, the narrative that is being built around the incident is completely based on falsehood and malicious claims by the police. Instead of the real perpetrators behind the violence, the people known for their dissenting views have been framed by the police.”
“This is a state worse than the Emergency. There have been attacks on not just to right to dissent, but also on the right to defence and right to organise. There have also been procedural violations in the court proceedings. For example, today Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were not brought to court, because then the court asks if those in custody have any complaint against the police. Last time, we had seen how Ferreira was assaulted and how his face was swollen,” added Shrivastava.
When Ferreira was produced before a magistrate court on November 6, he had accused ACP Pawar of hitting him on the face multiple times during interrogation.
On Sunday, activists from various organisations had organised a meeting at the Lokayat Hall in Pune to extend their support to the PUCL team.
Pune-based activist Manisha Gupte and others were also present in court, along with PUCL activists and lawyer Susan Abraham of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Mumbai. They claimed that police have made “false arrests” in the case.
One of the accused in the case, poet and activist, Varavara Rao, who was taken into custody by Pune City Police on Saturday, was taken to hospital late on Sunday after he complained of uneasiness.
His lawyer Rohan Nahar said, “Rao complained of uneasiness, possibly because of lack of ventilation where he was in police custody. He was immediately taken to the hospital and tests were conducted. He was discharged after doctors did not find any major health concern.”
Pune City Police has alleged that the activists helped channel funds from the CPI-Maoist for the Elgaar Parishad, a one-day conference held in the city on December 31 last year.
Police have claimed that “inciting speeches” by the speakers at the Parishad triggered violence in villages near Pune the next day, January 1, when thousands had gathered there to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.