THE BOMBAY High Court on Tuesday refused to grant bail to activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, observing that they are “senior active members” of banned terrorist organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The activists were arrested by the Pune Police on August 28, 2018, in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case, for their alleged links with the banned organisation. They were booked under the provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.
In three separate orders, Justice Sarang Kotwal said that the activists were given the most important tasks of recruiting cadres and there is material in the chargesheet to show that they had actively worked towards fulfilling that responsibility.
While rejecting Ferreira’s bail, Justice Kotwal said, “One of the important tasks was to raise, manage and distribute funds in the banned organisation and there is material in the chargesheet to show that prima facie the applicant (Ferreira) had actively worked towards fulfilling that responsibility.”
He read out from the observations he had made based on the arguments presented by both the sides and documents submitted by the investigating agency.
Justice Kotwal added that two of the important methods followed by CPI (Maoist) to recruit cadres from urban areas was through student unions and “providing military training” to such cadres. Important party members were entrusted with the responsibility of recruiting cadres.
“One of the objectives of the banned organisation was defeating ‘enemy forces’ with the use of weapons and by forming people’s army. The banned organisation was using firearms and lethal weapons. The state armed forces were treated as ‘enemy forces’,” the court noted in the order passed against the three activists.
According to the Pune Police, CPI (Maoist) is waging “a people’s war” by mobilising people on a massive scale, both militarily and politically. It said that the organisation is trying to create disharmony between different castes with the objective to overthrow the democratically elected government and to seize political power through armed revolution.
The court noted that the scope of investigation conducted by the Pune Police was not restricted to the programme organised by Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017, but to unearth a much larger conspiracy of seizing political power through armed revolution by mobilising masses.
Justice Kotwal noted that Gonsalves’ act of recruiting cadres for the banned outfit and being its active member was punishable under UAPA. “…facts sufficiently establish prima facie that the applicant (Gonsalves), on instructions of the banned organisation, was recruiting cadres from institutions like TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences),” the court said.
It added, “The investigating agency has material to show prima facie that the applicant (Gonsalves) is a senior active member of the banned organisation.”
The court, in the bail order of Bharadwaj, said: “The investigating agency has material to show prima facie that the applicant (Bharadwaj) is a senior active member of the banned organisation and she was on important committees of the party. She was a party to the suggestion that members be given packages similar to the packages given to Kashmiri separatists by different terrorist organisations.”