SC extends house arrest of 5 activists in Bhima Koregaon case till Sept 17

The five activists were arrested for alleged links with left-wing rebels called Naxals or Maoists.

Updated: Sep 12, 2018 23:38:54

By HT Correspondent

Revolutionary writer P Varavara Rao, arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, being produced at a court in Pune on Aug 29, 2018. (PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended until September 17 the house arrest of five human rights activists arrested by Pune police for suspected Maoist links in connection with the January 1 violence in Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra .

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud adjourned the hearing on a petition filed by historian Romila Thapar on Wednesday after they were informed that senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhivi, who is appearing for Thapar, was busy in another court.

Last month, Thapar had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the August 28 arrests of lawyer and trade unionist Sudha Bhardwaj, Telugu poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves. She claimed that the arrests were aimed at muzzling dissent.

Observing that dissent was the “safety valve of democracy and the pressure cooker will burst if you do not allow the valve,” the apex court had disallowed Pune police from taking custody of the five activists and said they should be kept under house arrest.

Pune Police had claimed that the arrest of the five activists was part of a probe into a conclave called Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31, 2017, when activists and Dalit organisations came together and conspired to trigger violence the next day in Bhima Koregaon, where Hinduta activists and Dalits clashed.

The Maharashtra government had last week, in an affidavit before the Supreme Court, defended the police’s action, and claimed that the activists were active members of the banned outfit, Communist Party of India (Maoist). The affidavit says the five “are not arrested based upon any dissenting views expressed by them or difference in their political or other ideologies”.

First Published: Sep 12, 2018 12:44:57


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