We have concrete evidence against activists: Govt

We have concrete evidence against activists: Govt

Social activist-lawyer Arun Ferreira looks on after he was brought back to his residence and placed under house arrest, in Thane on Thursday, Aug 30, 2018. Supreme Court gave relief to Ferreira and four other rights activists, who were arrested for their alleged role in Bhima-Koregaon violence. PTI

A day after the Supreme Court observed that "dissent is the safety valve of democracy" and ordered house arrest for the activists with alleged Maoists links, the Maharashtra government on Thursday claimed that the action against them was based on solid evidence.

"We have got adequate evidence and acted only after that," Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar said.

Pune police chief K Venkatesham said the "digital evidence" that was recovered during the raids would be presented before the Supreme Court on September 6, the next date of hearing.

On Tuesday, the Pune police arrested five persons — Marxist ideologue and revolutionary writer P Varavara Rao from Hyderabad, Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad, Gautam Navlakha from New Delhi, Vernon Gonsalves from Mumbai and Arun Ferreira from Thane.

After the Supreme Court order on house arrest and directives from the Pune Sessions Court, Varavara Rao, Gonsalves and Ferreira returned to their respective homes.

They were arrested by the Pune police in connection with the Elgar Parishad held in Shaniwarwada in Pune on 31 December, 2017, on the eve of caste riots in Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, 2018.

"Our investigation is based on evidence... please do not politicise the issue, look at the evidence that has been presented in the court," Kesarkar said, adding that we all are aware that CPI (Maoist) is creating trouble, and that they have links with some organisations in the Kashmir Valley.

"We have found links (between Maoists and Elgar Parishad) and hence the arrests were made... all the necessary procedures were followed," he said. 

On being asked whether Milind Ekbote, founder of the Pune-based Samastha Hindu Aghadi, and Sambaji Bhide Guruji, founder of Shree Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan, the two persons named in the Bhima Koregaon incident, Kesarkar said, "You all are aware that Milind Ekbote was arrested".

However, during an interview to a TV channel, Venkatesham said they have not found any evidence to link Bhide Guruji to the caste riots.

He added that he would not comment on the evidence gathered against the activists with Maoist links as it is being presented to the apex court in a week's time.

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