The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused bail to civil liberties activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves, arrested for allegedly inciting caste-based violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune and having links with Maoists.
Justice Sarang Kotwal rejected the bail pleas filed by the three activists. The accused were initially placed under house arrest in August last year by the Pune Police in Maharashtra and were later taken into custody on October 26, after a sessions court in Pune rejected their bail pleas.
The activists, who have been in jail since then, approached the high court last year. The police have charged the three accused and several other activists under provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code.
The case was lodged against them in January 2018 after the Elgar Parishad, held on December 31, 2017, that allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune the next day.
The police alleged that the accused had links with Maoists and were working towards overthrowing the government. The three accused, however, claimed there was no evidence to support the police case that they and other activists were creating a ”war-like” situation against the government.
The Supreme Court on October 4, gave interim protection from arrest to another social activist Gautam Navlakha on his plea seeking quashing of FIR against him in the Bhima-Koregaon case and asked the Maharashtra government to produce relevant documents related to the case. The case was heard by the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta after five judges, Including the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, recused themselves from hearing the matter.
Navlakha and nine activists including Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj were arrested by the Pune police from different parts of India, for their role in Pune’s December 31, 2017 Elgar Parishad gathering that allegedly triggered the caste riots in Bhima-Koregaon the next day, on January 1, 2018 where one person died in the violence.
These activists are accused of having alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist and hatching a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to overthrow the elected government and booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).