By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: June 20, 2020 5:59:26 am
Lawyer Surendra Gadling was arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case. (File)
Lawyer Surendra Gadling and poet-publisher Sudhir Dhawale, arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case, approached the Bombay High Court on Thursday challenging the transfer of the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The petition, which also names former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, stated that the two Hindutva leaders received “state shelter” despite being named in FIRs linked to the assault on Dalits visiting the Bhima Koregaon memorial on January 1, 2018.
“The police administration under the control and supervision of then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis conveniently ignored the serious offences committed by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote,” it added.
Gadling and Dhawale, along with seven others, have been behind bars since 2018 after being arrested by Pune Police in connection with the Elgaar Parishad event organised in Pune on December 29, 2017.
Based on a complaint received eight days after the event, the Pune Police had filed an FIR linking “inflammatory speeches” given at the event to the Bhima Koregaon violence that took place on January 1, 2018. The case was transferred to the NIA in January this year. The Pune Police had claimed that the event had been part of a criminal conspiracy linked to banned organisation CPI (Maoist).
The petition, filed through lawyer Satish Talekar, stated that there were no compelling reason for the transfer of the case to NIA, and that no provision empowers the Union government to transfer the probe after it has been completed and trial is set to commence. It added that the case was transferred “due to malafides and political expediency” when the Maha Vikas Agadhi coalition in the state proposed to constitute an SIT to probe the matter.
Such a move disturbed the BJP-led government, who not only feared being exposed for false implication and arrest of petitioners, but it would also have caused a great deal of embarrassment, the plea said. “This fear prompted the BJP-led government at the Centre to transfer the case…,” it added.
It plea stated that prior to that the state government had itself told the Supreme Court that it was satisfied with the Pune Police investigation.
Further, on the chronology of events leading up to the violence, the petition stated that while only Dhawale was named in the initial FIR filed by the Pune Police, the eight others arrested in 2018 as well as academician Anand Teltumbde and activist Gautam Navlakha (both arrested in April, this year), were not named in the FIR. “The case of the prosecution is that the Elgar Parishad was a precursor to incite people and thereby, create communal violence. If there is any truth in it, it was necessary to arrest all such persons (who organised the event), including Justice P B Sawant, Justice B G Kolse Patil…,” it added.
The plea claimed that those who had been criticising the activities of the ruling party were targeted. All 11 accused in the case – Dhawale, Gadling, Teltumbde, Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Mahesh Raut,
Vernon Gonsalves, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Shoma Sen and Sudha Bharadwaj – are currently jailed in Mumbai.14 MPs write to CM, seek urgent medical attention for Varavara Rao
Fourteen Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday seeking urgent medical attention for 81-year-old poet Varavara Rao, who is lodged at Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai, in connection to the Elgaar Parishad case.
The MPs said they are writing to register grave concern about Rao’s health amid reports of Covid-19 cases spreading in jails. They are Lok Sabha MPs Kanimozhi Karunanidhi and Sumathy Thamizhachi of DMK; Komati Reddy, Uttam Reddy and A Revanth Reddy of Congress; P R Natrajan and S Venkatesan of CPI (Marxist); M Selvaraj and K Subbarayan of CPI and D Ravikumar and Thol Valavavan of Viduthalai Churuthaigal Katchi. The Rajya Sabha MPs are Manoj Jha and KK Ragesh (CPIM) and Tiruchi Siva (DMK).
“It has also come to our notice through the family members of Varavara Rao that the aged poet is vomiting several times daily and is not keeping well. His family mentioned that his voice was extremely feeble when he could speak to them on a call made to them after a month,” the letter stated. Rao was rushed to state-run JJ Hospital last month after he fell unconscious in the jail.
The MPs said that the reports from JJ Hospital indicate that Rao was suffering from an electrolyte disturbance that could prove detrimental, as he is already a cardiac patient. It added that his intestinal ulcers need urgent investigation colonoscopy, as directed by doctors while he was in a Pune jail, and that he is yet to undergo the procedure even six months later.
“The current level of care provided in the jail is not acceptable. We request you to give him the necessary and urgent medical attention by moving him to a hospital,” the MPs said.
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