Activists arrested for evidence on their link with Maoists, Maharashtra Police to Supreme Court

The apex court while ordering the house arrest of the five activists on August 29 till September 6 had categorically said that "dissent is the safety valve of democracy".

Activists arrested for evidence on their link with Maoists, Maharashtra Police to Supreme Court

The Maharashtra Police on Wednesday filed a response in the Supreme Court on the arrest of five activists in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case and asserted the arrests were made based on "cogent evidence linking them with banned CPI(Maoist)".

They also accused the activists of planning to carry out violence, planned ambush against the country and the security forces. 

"Activists have not been arrested because of their dissenting opinion, there is sufficient material to dispel this impression," the police added.

The activists Varavara Rao, Arun Farreira, Vernon Gonzalves, Sudha Bhardwaj and Gautam Navalakha, were arrested after an FIR was lodged following a conclave -- 'Elgaar Parishad' -- held on December 31 2017 that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village. 

The apex court had earlier ordered that the five human rights activists would be kept under house arrest till September 6 observing that dissent was the "safety valve" of democracy. While granting relief to the activists the court did not consider the vehement opposition of Maharashtra government. 

The state government had challenged the locus of the petitioners, Thapar and four others, seeking relief on their behalf, and calling them "strangers".

A Pune-based man, who had lodged an FIR in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence that led to the arrest of five human rights activists, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking that he be made a party in the plea filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it would hear the plea on September 6 when the petition filed by Thapar and four others will come up for hearing.

The plea filed by Tushar Damgude sought that he be made a party in the pending case as it was he who had lodged the FIR in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence last year. The state had challenged the petitioners' locus, dubbing them as "strangers".

The plea, by Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpandey and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala, has sought an independent probe into the arrests and their immediate release.

Prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, while activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha was arrested from New Delhi. 

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