Condemning the recent arrests of alleged Maoist sympathisers by the Pune police, retired Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil, one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad, said that four of the five arrested were not at all associated with the event.
Last week, the police had arrested advocate Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut and professor Shoma Sen from Nagpur, Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai and Rona Wilson from Delhi claiming that they are suspected members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoists). Police had claimed they all had participated, some as organisers, in the Elgaar Parishad at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, a day prior to the Bhima-Koregaon riots in which two persons were killed.
All the arrested have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Elgaar Parishad had been accused of fomenting the violence.
“Barring Sudhir Dhawale, the other four arrested were not at all associated with the Elgaar Parishad in any manner,” Justice (retd) Kolse Patil said.
Speaking on police allegations of Maoists funding the Elgaar Parishad, Justice (retd) Kolse Patil said the event was organised with limited resources. “This allegation is 100 per cent false. We didn’t incur any expenses there. The stage was set up by an institute that had hosted a function the previous night and we used the same stage,” he added.
He said the alleged letter, found by police, targeting PM Narendra Modi was a fake. “If the letter had such an important content, why no secrecy was maintained? How did It reach the BJP spokespersons, the media immediately after the court proceedings?’’ Justice (retd) Kolse Patil added. Shoma Sen’s daughter said the police did not inform her family where they were taking Sen and they learnt about the arrest only after 24 hours. “My mother was slated to retire next month and her colleagues were in the process of organising a retirement party. Amidst this came her arrest, which has left me shocked. The police came swooping down in the wee hours and took my mother in custody. They confiscated my parents’ phones and I was not able to contact them for over 24 hours. I am their only daughter. Injustice has been done to us and I smell a conspiracy here,” she said. When asked about the threat letter, Koel said that these were baseless allegations. “I am speechless. Where have the letters surfaced from? Who is the author of the letters? I am confident it won’t stand in a court of law,” Koel added.
Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate (PUCL, Maharashtra) said Gadling was not present in the meeting. “He was not even present at the event and was busy with the cross-examination of an accused. In the past, when police had applied to the court to conduct searches at Gadling’s residence, they were denied permission. A few days later, armed policemen suddenly swooped down at his residence. The purpose was to humiliate him and cause a chilling effect,” he said.
Gadling wife’s Meenal said she was still reeling under shock. “All this is very overwhelming. Police raided our home around 6 am and took him away without even following the due procedure of having panch witnesses,” she said.