Two left-wing activists sent to police custody till Nov 6

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Pune: A local court here Saturday remanded two left-wing activists – Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, accused of having Maoist links, in police custody till November 6.

Gonsalves and Ferreira were taken into the custody by Pune police Friday evening, hours after the court rejected their bail applications along with that of Sudha Bharadwaj, observing that the material collected by the police, on the face of it, shows their alleged links with Maoists.

According to the police, Bharadwaj, who was under house arrest in Faridabad is also likely to be produced in the court later in the day on Saturday.

District and Sessions Judge K D Vadane sent the two activists to police custody after district government pleader and public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar argued in the court that since all the accused were under house arrest as per the Supreme Court’s directions, they could not be interrogated in connection with the case.

Seeking their police custody for 14 days, Pawar told the court that the preliminary investigation has revealed that they had links with the banned CPI (Maoist) and were involved in recruitment as well as raising funds for Maoist activities.

They were involved in “larger conspiracy to threaten the democratic set-up of the nation”, Pawar told the court.

The Pune police had arrested Ferreira, Gonsalves, Bharadwaj and two others — Telugu poet Varavara Rao and activist Gautam Navlakha — in August this year in connection with the probe into violence in Koregaon Bhima in Pune on Januuary 1 this year.

Gonsalves and Ferreira were brought to Pune from their residences in Mumbai on Friday after their bail pleas were rejected by the court. Their four-week period of house arrest also ended on Friday.

Opposing the police custody, defence lawyer Rahul Deshmukh, who represented Gonsalves, argued in the court that the police in their remand report have not mentioned that they need to recover any material from the accused.

The material seized earlier is already in their possession for nearly two months now, he said. “So there is no need for police custody,” he said.

Citing a CrPC section, he argued that the house arrest of all these accused was nothing but a “judicial custody”.

“While seeking the police custody of the accused, who are already in judicial custody, the prosecution needs to submit an affidavit before the court. But in this case, no affidavit was submitted, so there is no need to give police custody,” Deshmukh said.

Advocate Siddharth Patil, representing Ferreira, argued the period of the house arrest specified by the SC was valid till 12 midnight of October 26.

“However, police took both the accused into the custody before the expiry of the house arrest, which is contempt of court,” he said.

Talking to PTI later, Deshmukh said he would assess the order copy and will challenge the police custody in the high court.