The Pune police on Tuesday detained 4 alleged Maoist sympathisers, viz., Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Arun Ferreira, in what is being called as the biggest crackdown on ‘Urban Naxals’
Meanwhile, Gautam Navlakha has been put under house arrest after Delhi High Court stayed his detention.
All search warrants and detentions were carried out under anti-terror UAPA law and IPC sections 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120(b) and 34.
Top police sources have told Republic TV all those detained “are members of the core committee group of urban Naxals and that they were involved in almost all the Naxal activities happened in the recent times”. The top Pune police sources have also told Republic TV that Rona Wilson and other accused in the month of June were used to report to these people.
The said people were detained following a raid carried out by the Pune police on the residences of people suspected to have Maoist links. The raids were in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
Violent clashes had broken out in Bhima-Koregaon village in Pune district on January 2, leaving one dead and injuring several others. The violence started at an event of Elgar Parishad, attended by a huge crowd of Dalits at Perne village on the Pune-Ahmednagar Road to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
The Battle of Koregaon was fought between the British East India Company and Pesha faction at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 1818. After defending their position for nearly 12 hours, the British East India Company had defeated the Peshwas. To commemorate the battle, a “victory pillar” was erected in Koregaon.
The battle and the victory of the British East India Company is significant to the Dalits as the victory pillar features names of 29 Dalits among other soldiers, who were a part of the East India Company. Soon, the obelisk became a memorial for the Dalits for defeating the high-caste oppression. Later in January 1, 1927, BR Ambedkar visited the site, following which his followers started to visit the memorial every year to mark his visit.
Earlier this year, the unfortunate turn of events during the commemoration of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon, led to caste-based clashes in various regions of Maharashtra, including Mumbai.
As a part of the probe in the Bhima-Koregaon violence, Pune police had arrested 5 people, namely, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rana Jacob, in June, for allegedly delivering hate speeches and distributing disputed pamphlets. Later in June itself, while addressing a press briefing, Ravindra Kadam, Joint CP, Pune, had confirmed that the 5 accused persons have links with Naxals. During the briefing, Kadam said that their Naxal links were confirmed following the information and material ascertained from them. Kadam also said that a some among the arrested have been booked earlier for their Naxal links. After the arrests, the police have also recovered a letter containing the plan of a Rajiv Gandhi type assassination plot for Prime Minister Modi.
After the PM Modi assassination plot letter surfaced, Republic TV accessed another letter, detailing Maoist attacks carried out by them "in the guidance of Naxal sympathiser Varavara Rao and comrade Surendra Gadling, which have gotten them national-level fame".
However, after the 5 arrests, Arun Ferreira, the lawyer of Surendra Gadling had accused the police of fabricating the papers, recovered during the raids to link the incident with Maoists, instead of finding the real cause behind the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
Now, the recent detentions by the Pune police are being seen as the outcome of the arrests of the 5 people in June and information ascertained from them.
Maoist sympathiser and writer Varavara Rao has been detained in Hyderabad under UAPA or Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Rao is one of the founders of Virasam, the popular acronym for Viplava Rachayitala Sangam (Revolutionary Writers' Association). The association is infamous for supporting and propagating Naxal ideology.
Sudha Bharadwaj has been detained under UAPA, whose letter to one comrade Prakash was exposed by Republic TV on July 4. The accessed letter allegedly established a link between urban Naxals and Kashmiri separatists. Sudha Bharadwaj, who is living in Chhattisgarh for 29 years now is a representative of multiple organisations, including Jagdalpur Legal Aid and Bastar Solidarity Network.
Human rights activist Gautam Navlakha has been put under house arrest in Delhi under anti-terror act. Navlakha, who had in past in Kashmir, was currently focussing his area of work in Chhattisgarh, whose large parts are under Maoists’ influence.
Vernon Gonsalves has been detained in Mumbai. In past, too, he had spent time in jail for his alleged links with banned Maoist groups. He was picked up by Maharashtra ATS on August 19, 2007, on charges of having Naxal links and for possessing explosives.
Arun Ferreira was detained in Mumbai. He is a human rights activist, who has been accused of having alleged links with Maoists. He was also the lawyer of Sudhir Dhawale and had accused the Pune police of fabricating papers to link Bhima-Koregaon incident with Maoists.