Opposing the bail applications filed by six of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, the Pune City Police on Thursday submitted a copy of a booklet — Maowadyanvirodhat Ladha Kashasathi Va Konasathi— before a special court in Pune and argued that its contents promoted “hatred” and “disaffection” towards elected governments. The booklet has been written by activist Sudhir Dhawale, one of the accused. Bail applications of Dhawale, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, former Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and P Varavara Rao are being heard before Special Judge K D Vadane in Pune. The hearing on their bail applications will continue on April 15. The bail applications of three more accused — Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves — are pending before the Bombay High Court.
Pune City Police has alleged that the organisers of Elgaar Parishad, an evening conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, have active links with the CPI-Maoist, a banned outfit. Police claim that the event was organised by channelling funds from the CPI-Maoist and speeches and programmes at the conclave played a role in triggering violence at Koregaon Bhima the next day, January 1, 2018. The violence broke out on a day when lakhs had gathered in the area to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Till now, police have booked 23 persons in connection with the case, and arrested nine activists from across India last year, alleging that all of them were active members of the CPI-Maoist.
In the Pune court on Thursday, District Government Pleader Ujjwala Pawar read out parts of the booklet, in which the author has expressed ideas such as “participating in the electoral process will not bring any solution”, “the need for guerrilla warfare” and “sashastra janandolan (armed public movement)”. Pawar claimed that distribution of such booklets was “an attempt to create hatred and disaffection towards the lawfully-elected government”. Pawar also told the court that the content of the book showed the “ideological inclination of the accused” (towards the Maoist movement) and thus it should be taken into consideration.
Dhawale is an activist of the Republican Panthers Caste Annihilation Movement and editor of a magazine called Vidrohi. He had been arrested earlier in 2011 for alleged links with the Maoist movement but was acquitted in 2014. The booklet produced before the court was purportedly seized from another accused, Mahesh Raut, during searches conducted at his residence last year, said Pune Police.
Pawar also submitted the details of various letters, communications and documents allegedly recovered from the digital data seized from activist Rona Wilson, lawyer Surendra Gadling and others. Based on these “seized communications”, Pawar argued that the accused were engaged in recruiting youths into the Maoist movement. She also claimed that the accused played a role in procurement of arms and ammunition for the CPI-Maoist with the help of Basanta, a Maoist leader from Nepal, for the purpose of “carrying out terrorist activities”.
Pawar also cited the alleged links between Rona and G N Saibaba, a Delhi University professor convicted by a Gadchiroli court for “links with Maoists”, based on their “joint bank accounts” and programmes organised by Rona for the release of Saibaba.
The government pleader argued that the literature, letters and “incriminating material recovered from the accused” amounted to an offence under sections 120, 121 of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy, attempting to wage war against the government) and sections 15, 16, 17 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Pawar also read out some parts of a letter dated January 2, 2018, the day after the Koregaon Bhima violence, which was allegedly seized from Rona Wilson. The letter purportedly stated,”…The Bhima Koregaon agitation has been very effective…”
She also read another letter “seized from the accused”, which allegedly contained details of funds given by the CPI-Maoist to two of the Elgaar Parishad case accused, Gadling and Shoma Sen, through Mahesh Raut. Pawar then linked it with a booklet seized from Gadling and claimed it established, prima-facie, a link between the accused and the Bhima Koregaon issue. The booklet was distributed at the Elgaar Parishad organised at Shaniwar Wada.