Some of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case had formed “front organisations” to purportedly promote democratic rights, but they used the “cover” of these outfits to help the banned Naxal outfit CPI-Maoist carry out its activities, the Pune City Police has claimed in the supplementary chargesheet filed on Thursday. The accused named in the supplementary chargesheet include top fugitive Maoist leader Mupalla Lakshmana Rao, who is also known as Ganapathy or Chandrashekhar., and activists P Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj.
Police claim that Rao, Ferreira, Gonsalves and Bharadwaj, who were arrested last year and are currently lodged in Yerwada jail, are active members of the banned CPI-Maoist. They either formed “front organisations” like the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), Anuradha Gandhi Memorial Committee (AGMC), Kabir Kala Manch and Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) or joined similar outfits in a “systematic manner” to use their cover to carry out activities of the CPI-Maoist, said police.
In the 1,837-page chargesheet, filed by investigating officer Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar before Special Judge K D Vadane, the Pune City Police claimed to have evidence to substantiate the charges. Police submitted that Bharadwaj is a key member of the IAPL and PPSC. They also claimed that Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), an outfit of which Rao is the president, is a Maoist front. The chargesheet stated that Delhi University Professor G N Saibaba, who was convicted by a Gadchiroli court over alleged Naxal links, was the secretary of RDF.
“Accused Varavara Rao, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and underground operative Prakash alias Navin alias Ritupan Goswami and others were present for a national conference of RDF in Hyderabad,” stated the chargesheet. Sen and Raut were arrested in June last year and have been lodged at Yerwada jail, while Goswami, another wanted Maoist, was one of the accused named in the first chargesheet.
8 accused have evaded chargesheet, arrest
Eight of the 23 accused in the case are yet to be chargesheeted. These include activists Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde and Stan Swamy, who were raided in a multi-city operation by Pune police last August. Navlakha and Teltumbde have so far managed to escape arrest, thanks to the repeated intervention of courts. Pune police has so far made no effort to arrest Stan Swamy, who resides in Ranchi, Harshali Potdar of Republican Panthers, Mumbai and four Kabir Kala Manch artistes from Pune.
Police also alleged that Prashant Rahi, who was convicted along with Saibaba by the Gadchiroli court, was a leader of the PPSC, and the investigation has revealed that Rao provided funds to the PPSC.
Police have earlier accused Bharadwaj, Gonsalves, Ferreira, Rao and Gautam Navlakha, an activist from Delhi, of being part of a larger plan by the CPI-Maoist to form an ‘Anti-Fascist Front’ that aims to overthrow the government. Though named as one of the accused in the case, Navlakha has managed to obtain legal protection from arrest till now.
Defence lawyers have denied all allegations levelled by the police and have argued that IAPL, headed by a retired judge, is not a Maoist front. With the inclusion of Ganapathy in the list of accused, the number of people booked in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case has reached 23.