The Pune City Police has sought 90 days’ extension to file its chargesheet against the five suspects arrested on June 6 in connection with a case filed over Elgaar Parishad. In an application filed before a special court in Pune, police said all five were active members of the banned Communist Party of India -Maoist, and alleged that the Parishad, a one-day conference held on December 31 last year, was funded by the banned outfit.
The FIR in the case, lodged by Pune resident Tushar Damgude, had initially named Harshali Potdar, Sudhir Dhawale of Republican Panthers (RP), Mumbai and Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Deepak Dhengle from the Pune-based Kabir Kala Manch. During investigation, police had conducted searches at the residence of the six suspects on April 17 and also searched the residence of Rona Wilson in Delhi and Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling. Four “underground Maoist operatives” — Milind Teltumbde, Prakash alias Ritupam Goswami, Manglu and Deepu — were named as accused, based on alleged evidence recovered against them during searches.
On June 6, police had arrested Wilson, Dhawale and Gadling, along with Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen and former Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow Mahesh Raut. All the five arrested accused were presented in the special court on Saturday. In its application before the court, Pune police stated, “Investigation has revealed that Dhawale and other accused were provided funds of a large amount by accused Gadling and Shoma Sen to cause public disorder and aggravate violence at Bhima Koregaon”. It claimed that Mahesh Raut “safely and secretly took students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to forest areas, in order to meet absconding underground Maoists, and to train them”.
The application also mentioned details of banned CPI-Maoist material, allegedly seized from Rona Wilson. Police alleged that all accused “in pursuance of their criminal conspiracy, followed the directions of the Eastern Regional Bureau meetings and circulars of the central committee of the banned organisation”. Police also submitted details on the arrests of five rights activists — P Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha — who were arrested on August 28 and later put under house arrest, as per the Supreme Court’s order.
They were booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as well as Indian Penal Code sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 (statements conducive to public mischief) and 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public).
Police said the digital material seized from them had been sent to the Forensic Science Lab and its report was awaited. Seeking an extension of 90 days for filing the chargesheet against the five accused, police stated voluminous data of about 25,000 GB was being investigated. Probe about the procurement of funds, mobile phone records, email communications and bank account details was also in progress, police told the court.
When defence lawyers argued that they needed time to respond to the application, the court asked them to submit their say on Sunday.