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Bhima Koregaon violence: Pune court rejects Urban Naxal Gautam Navlakha’s anticipatory bail plea, says custodial interrogation a must

While rejecting the bail application the court observed that there is prima facie enough material to show Navlakha is not only a member of the banned organisation- Hizbul "but an active leader" also.

A Sessions Court in Pune today refused to grant anticipatory bail to activist Gautam Navlakha, who is accused of having links with Maoists, Kashmiri separatists, Pakistan’s ISI and banned terror organisation Hizbul. It also rejected Navlakha’s application seeking a three-day extension in protection from arrest.

While rejecting the bail application the court observed that there is prima facie enough material to show Navlakha is not only a member of the banned organisation- Hizbul “but an active leader” also.

The court’ observation is as follows:

It is clear that there is prima facie sufficient material to show that the applicant is not only a member of a banned organization but an active leader. Prima facie it can be noted that the organisation of Elgar Parishad at Pune was part of a larger conspiracy of the banned organization and Bhima Koregaon episode is one of the instances of execution of the said conspiracy. Therefore, the question of jurisdiction either of Pune Police or of this Court cannot be said to have merits, at least at this stage.”

Navlakha had moved the sessions court here on November 5 to seek anticipatory bail.

On November 6, the sessions court had also rejected bail application of all the nine alleged ‘Urban Naxals’ namely, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson, accused of instigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence that took place on 1st January 2018 in Pune.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had granted interim protection from arrest to Navlakha who had appealed against an earlier Bombay HC order refusing to quash his FIR.

Bharadwaj, Gonsalves and Ferreira had been locked in Pune’s Yerawada Jail for almost 14 months. They had moved to the Bombay HC after a special judge in Pune had rejected their bail petitions last year.

On October 15, the Bombay HC had also rejected the bail pleas of alleged Urban Naxals Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. The bail plea was moved in the month of August and the court had begun hearing on August 27. The court had reserved the judgement on October 7. The three were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act by the Maharashtra police after it began raids in the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

Read: The logical fallacy of celebrating ‘Dalit victory’ at Battle of Koregaon

The five suspected ‘Urban Naxals’, identified as Delhi based activist Rona Wilson, advocate Surendra Gadling, professor Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut from Nagpur and Mumbai’s Sudhir Dhavle were arrested by the Pune police on 6 June 2018, over charges of organising the Elgaar Parishad held at Pune’s Shaniwarwada on 31 December 2017, which is believed to have instigated the Bhima-Koregaon violence a day later.

The Pune police had filed a 5,000-page charge sheet, which had names of 10 persons, including Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale of Republican Panthers. Addition to these five, absconding underground Maoists Milind Teltumbde, Prakash alias Ritupam Goswami, Prashant Bose alias Kishan da, Manglu and Deepu have also been named in the charge sheet.

Apart from these ten alleged ‘Urban Naxals’, in a nation-wide crackdown, the police had arrested activist P Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, ‘human rights activist’ and ‘journalist’ Gautam Navlakha in Delhi, ‘activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Pereira in Mumbai, ‘civil rights’ lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj in Delhi, civil rights ‘activist’ Anand Teltumbde in Goa and ‘activist’ Stan Swamy in Ranchi in relation with Elgar Parishad violence and plot to kill the Prime Minister Modi.

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