Slamming the misinformation spread by media, Bombay High Court Advocate Yug Chaudhary, on Thursday, dismissed reports about Justice Sarang Kotwal. While questioning Vernon Gonsalves on the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, Justice Sarang Kotwal asked the accused why he had a 'War and Peace' book at home. Chaudhary stated that the media had misquoted the judge as he was referring to a Biswajit Roy's collection of essays titled 'War and Peace in Junglemahal: People, State and Maoists' and not to Leo Tolstoy's classic 'War and Peace'. The Bombay High Court added that it knew Leo Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' was a literary classic and further clarified that it did not suggest that all the books seized by Pune police in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case were incriminating.
On Wednesday, there were news reports that quoted Justice Sarang asking why Gonsalves kept “objectionable material” like War and Peace at his home. The reports attributed it Leo Tolstoy's classic - 'War and Peace' which is about Russia during the Napoleonic wars. Justice Kotwal was hearing the bail plea of Gonsalves and others at the time. The Pune police had seized a number of books and CDs from Gonsalves’ house in Mumbai during the raids conducted a year ago.
“The title of the CD Rajya Daman Virodhi itself suggests it has something against the State while War and Peace is about a war in another country. Why did you (Mr. Gonsalves) keep objectionable material such as books like War and Peace, books and CDs at home? You will have to explain this to the court,” said Justice Kotwal, according to reports. The 'War and Peace' referred in the above statement is 'War and Peace in Junglemahal'. This a collection of essays edited by Biswajit Roy describing the civil war between the central/state governments and the banned CPI(Maoist) group from Dandakaranya in central India to Junglemahal in West Bengal.
Gonsalves along with Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and Arun Ferreira were arrested on 28 August 2018 by the Pune police. They were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after raids were conducted at residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad case. Earlier in June 2018, Pune police had arrested Rona Wilson, along with Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rana Jacob in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence. After the arrests, the police had recovered a letter containing the plan of an assassination attempt of PM Modi.
The above-mentioned accused were arrested for provocative speeches made at the Parishad in Pune's Shaniwarwada on 31 December 2017. Pune police claim that these speeches were responsible for the violence around Bhima-Koregaon village on 1 January 2018. The event marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon was marred by violence where one was killed and many others injured in the violence. Police are currently probing alleged Naxal links in the Elgar-Parishad.