The Bombay High Court on Thursday extended interim protection from arrest to human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, civil rights activist Anand Teltumbde and activist Stan Swamy till November 21, for their alleged Maoist links. The court was hearing a petition moved by Navlakha, Teltumbde and Swamy seeking that FIRs lodged against them by the Pune police in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence be quashed.
On August 29, the five activists — Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha — were put under house arrest following an apex court order. The Pune police had raided the houses of the activists in connection with the Elgaar Parishad probe. The police had also raided two others, Anand Teltumbde in Goa and Stan Swamy in Ranchi, on August 28 but they had not been arrested.
The activists were arrested for their alleged involvement in the activities of the banned CPI(Maoist). The police, while investigating the role of this Maoist outfit in organising and financing Elgaar Parishad, an evening event on December 31 in Pune, claimed to have stumbled upon evidence of the involvement of these activists in the activities of CPI(Maoist). The police claim that speeches made at Elgaar Parishad had played a role in instigating violence the next day, January 1, 2018, when lakhs of people had gathered in Pune for the 200th-anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Earlier, the court had restrained Pune police from arresting the activists until November 1. Stan Swamy was also granted relief till October 31. Lawyer Yug Mohit Chaudhry, who is contesting for Navlakha, told the court that the Pune police have arrested eminent people and distinguished scholars but no evidence has been produced before any court.
Last month, the Supreme Court had refused to interfere in the case and said that the Pune police could go ahead with its investigation. On October 1, the Delhi High Court freed Navlakha from house arrest, almost five weeks after he was arrested by the Pune police with four other activists.
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