Activist arrests: Bombay High Court questions press conference By Police

The Bombay High Court questioned the press conference by Maharashtra Police on the arrest of activists in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case saying that the matter is sub-judice

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The Bombay High Court pulled up the Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference, elaborating on the evidence it had against activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. While hearing a petition, the court said how can the police hold a press conference when the case is subjudice.

State Additional Director General (Law and Order) Parambir Singh along with the Pune police had addressed the media on the case on Friday.

The Maharashtra Police conducted multiple simultaneous raids and arrested five activists in connection with an event on December 31, 2017, that triggered violence at the Bhima Koregaon village.

Additional General of Maharashtra Police, Param Bir Singh said that an email letter, between Rona Wilson and a CPI-Maoist leader speaks of ending "Modi-raj" with a 'Rajiv Gandhi-type incident'. The letter also sought money for procuring grenade launchers, he said.

The police termed the raids and arrests as a crackdown on “urban naxals”, who they claimed were responsible for the violence

Prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj and civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha were arrested. The police termed the raids and arrests as a crackdown on “urban naxals”, who they claimed were responsible for the violence.

The petitioner told the court that the police on one hand wants an in-camera hearing while on the other are reading out evidence in the form of the activists' letters in public. The petitioner wants the case to be handed over to the NIA or the National Investigative Agency.

Public prosecutor Deepak Thakare said he would speak to the police officials concerned and seek their response.

Facing criticism on the raids and arrests targeting rights activists, the Maharashtra police had claimed it had solid evidence including "thousands of documents and letters" that established the activists' links to Maoists and their role in facilitating weapons and funding.

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