The state of Maharashtra has filed a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court over the notice that had been issued to it when the apex court had placed the accused persons who were detained in multi-city raids recently under house arrest. In the affidavit, the Maharashtra government has hit back, citing availability of evidence, against the politically-toned counter campaign that has been ongoing referring to the matter as 'hounding of activists'.
Ahead of the case being heard again in the Supreme Court on Thursday, Republic TV has accessed the Maharashtra government's affidavit, which makes, among many other points, the following submissions:
'ACTIVE MEMBERS OF CPI[MAOIST]; WERE PLANNING AND PREPARING FOR VIOLENCE'
"This honourable court is dealing with persons against whom cogent evidence has so far come on record showing that they are active members of the banned terrorist organisation, Communist Party of India [Maoist], and they are involved in not only planning and preparing for violence but were in the process of creating large-scale violence, destruction of property resulting into chaos in society as per the agenda of the CPI[Maoist], which was banned as a terrorist organisation in 2009."
"I state and submit that the following persons along with the one absconding underground accused, as part of well thought out criminal conspiracy and being active members of the CPI[Maoist], arranged a public meeting under the banner 'Elgaar Parishad'. It appears clearly that 'Elgaar' is a corrupted version of 'Yalgaar' which means 'the attack'", going on to add, "the aforesaid Elgaar Parishad came to be organised to play with the sentiments of a particular community as emerged during the investigation conducted subsequently."
'HOUNDING OF ACTIVISTS'?
"I respectfully submit at this juncture that considering the nature of the offence and the potential of the accused persons to make allegations against the investigating agencies on the ground that they are 'activists' and, therefore, were 'hounded', the investigating agency decided to videograph the entire process of conducting the search right from the time that the agency knocked at the doors of the respective individuals."
It adds that the seized items were immediately sent by the investigating agency to Forensic Science Laboratory.
'RECOVERED MATERIALS SHOCKING, REFLECT PLAN TO CARRY OUT VIOLENCE'
It is respectfully submitted that the material found from the computers/laptops/pen drives/ memory cards of the aforesaid accused persons was shocking and clearly implicating the aforesaid persons not only as active members of the CPI[Maoist] but clearly reflected an on-going sinister design of having committed and in the process of committing criminal offences having the potential of destabilising the society. The contents also clearly reflect the preparation, planning and coordination not only among the aforesaid persons but with others [subsequently arrested] to carry out violence, planned ambush/rebellion against the "enemy" (which is the country and its security forces)
'DISSENT BEING SUPPRESSED' VS 'CONNIVANCE AND CONSPIRACY'
It says that it begs the court 'be pleased to go through some sample material (which forms part of the case diary) which would be sufficient to remove any impression created that 'political dissenters' who are the 'intellectuals' are being hounded and the voice of dissent is being suppressed. It would become amply clear that they are found to be committing and were planning and preparing for a series of criminal offences in connivance and conspiracy.
The Maharashtra Police, along with other state task-forces, had initiated a multi-city crackdown on August 28 at the residences of a number of persons, in connection with the Bhima Koregaon-related caste violence. Five persons were detained -- Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj. While transit remand was granted to take three of them to Pune, the Chandigarh and Delhi High Courts were moved, with habeas corpus petitions, over Bharadwaj and Navlakha respectively, while the Supreme Court was also moved by top jurists including Congress leader Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
After the Supreme Court ordered that the accused persons be put under house arrest till the next hearing on September 6, an event had been organised at the Press Club in Delhi and was attended by Arundhati Roy, Jignesh Mevani, Prashant Bhushan and others, who elaborated on what they called 'hounding of activists, lawyers, poets and writers', hurling 'quashing of dissent', 'undeclared emergency' and 'fascism' allegations against the central government.
On August 31, however, the Maharashtra Police had issued a news briefing where it gave a complete background of the raids, including evidence gathered, and revealing a shocking plot to overthrow an established government. Naming names and reading out from seized letters, the police showcased a catalogue of foreign arms that were meant to be procured. The Maharashtra police was later pulled up by the judiciary for holding a news briefing while the matter was still sub-judice.