Urban Naxal Gautam Navlakha finally surrendered before the National Investigation Agency in connection with the Bhika Koregaon Violence case on Tuesday. On the 8th of April, the Supreme Court had given Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde a week to surrender. He has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Delhi: Activist Gautam Navlakha today surrendered before National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence matter. pic.twitter.com/Mz1q7D3AOx— ANI (@ANI) April 14, 2020
Before his surrender, Gautam Navlakha had penned an open letter where he had expressed his hope for a ‘speedy’ and ‘fair’ trial. “My hope rests on a speedy and fair trial for myself and all my fellow co-accused. This alone will enable me to clear my name, and walk free, having also used the time in jail to rid myself of acquired habits,” he wrote. He further stated, “I can now begin to face the actual legal process, which accompanies cases where provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are invoked. Such Acts turn the normal jurisprudence upside down. No longer is it the axiom that ‘a person is innocent unless proven guilty’. In fact, under such Acts, ‘an accused is guilty unless proven innocent’.”
Past Antecedents of Gautam Navlakha
Earlier in February, the Bombay High Court declined to grant anticipatory bails to Bhima Koregaon violence accused Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in the Elgar Parishad-alleged Maoist links case. Following the violence in Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde along with others were booked by the Pune police for their Maoist links and several other charges.
It has also been reported that Gautam Navlakha was in touch with Hizbul Mujahideen and other Kashmiri separatist leaders. Navlakha had earlier attended events organised by Ghulam Nabi Fai who was sentenced to two years of jail by the US for concealing the fact that Fai’s organization, Kashmiri American Council (KAC), was funded by Pakistani Spy Agency, ISI, to deliberately tilt USA’s policy regarding Kashmir against India.
What is the Bhima Koregaon Violence Case?
The event by the name of “Elgar Parishad” was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon of 1818, wherein the Peshwas fought against the between East India Company. In the war, an army of Dalit soldiers had fought under the British forces against the Peshwa, the reason for the celebration by Dalits. In 2018, it was the 200 year anniversary of the war and extreme violence erupted over the matter. Soon after, the case was transferred to the NIA. The Pune police had arrested a total of nine supposed “intellectuals” such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao for inciteful speeches.