Activists' arrest: Cops claim to have unearthed 'larger conspiracy'

Pune, Maharashtra, India Published: Aug 31, 2018, 08:18 AM(IST)

Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha. (Source: Image tweeted by @Sudhabharadwaj and Zee News Network) Photograph:( Others )

The Maharashtra Police on Thursday sought to justify the arrest of five Left-wing activists for alleged Maoist links, saying they are in possession of "digital" evidence about a "larger conspiracy" to mobilise cadres for "action" against security forces.

The Pune Police had arrested the activists after conducting raids in various cities on August 28.

"We have all the digital evidence to expose this large conspiracy about how to mobilise cadres, how to take action against security forces, which sort of weapons need to be procured and how to raise funds," Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham told reporters.

The Supreme Court, after being approached by some prominent people challenging the arrests, ordered yesterday that the five activists be kept under house arrest till September 6.

Venkatesham said the police would continue their investigation even though the apex court had ordered the five to be placed in house arrest.

"Our investigation will go on and we will take the case to the logical end. We have certain key leads and will take them forward," he added.

The raids were carried out as part of a probe into a conclave -- Elgar Parishad -- held in Pune on December 31 last year, which had allegedly triggered violence at Bhima Koregaon in the district the next day.

Left-leaning poet Varavara Rao from Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira from Mumbai, trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj from Haryana's Faridabad, and Gautam Navlakha were arrested after the raids.

When asked about seized documents that purportedly talk about procurement of weapons from Nepal and Manipur and the "role" Rao, Venkatesham said, "There are discussions in the seized communications on type of weapons that need to be

procured, from where they should be procured and from which route they should be brought in".

"We have all the evidence and we will present them in the court," he said.

During the arguments in Pune court yesterday, the prosecution had claimed that the accused were planning to "wage a war" against the country and were involved in procuring arms, funding Naxal activities and recruiting students from reputed educational institutes.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer, who is privy to the investigation, said the police have "conclusive evidence" to prove that the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018 was "pre-planned".

"CPI (Maoists) was preparing for the Elgar Parishad for the last several months. The objective of the conclave was to instigate people so that unrest can be created which eventually would overthrow the current government.

"The result of all this (preparation) we saw on the next day at Bhima-Koregaon in the form of the caste violence," he said.

The Pune Police had yesterday said it had "evidence" which suggested that there was a plan to target the "higher political functionaries". The police also claimed to have evidence to suggest that the arrested people had links with Kashmiri separatists.

The Bhima-Koregaon clashes had taken place during an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces and the Maratha Army led by Peshwas.

The British Army, comprising a large number of Dalits, had defeated the Marathas in the battle.

Dalits perceive the battle as the defeat of casteism of Peshwas who were Brahmins. 

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