Bail for Mahesh Raut in Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case
Raut was nabbed on June 6, 2018 in the case for alleged links with Maoists and has been in jail since then
The Bombay High Court has granted bail to one of the accused in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad conspiracy case, Mahesh Raut and granted the National Investigation Agency’s plea to stay it for a week.
A Division Bench comprising Justice AS Gadkari and Justice Sharmila Deshmukh on Thursday observed that several provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act invoked against the tribal rights activist Raut were inapplicable.
Raut was nabbed on June 6, 2018 in the case for alleged links with Maoists and has been in jail since then.
Raut’s lawyer, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai contended that contrary to the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) claims, his client was not a member of the outlawed CPI (Maoist), but was a TISS graduate, a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Fellowship, and worked for the tribals in Gadchiroli with the government.
The NIA’s Additional Solicitor-General Devang Vyas and lawyer Sandesh Patil submitted that there was a “larger conspiracy” of waging war against the country and his bail was rightly rejected by the lower court in November 2021.
They claimed evidence showing the CPI (Maoist) had given Rs 5,00,000 to Raut and other co-accused Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale, and there was sufficient proof to show that Raut participated in panchayat meetings in Gadchiroli.
They argued that the banned outfit had created a situation leading to violence and death of one person in Bhima Koregaon, Pune on January 1, 2018, to which the court said that there was no intention to kill that person, but he died in the rioting.
The NIA contended that the Maoist ideology views the democratically-elected government as ‘enemy’ and any of their own killed as ‘martyrs’, they mislead and mobilise the youth, etc.
Riots erupted in Bhima-Koregaon when thousands of Dalits from all over Maharashtra gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. The historic skirmish had taken place between a 28,000-strong army of the Peshwas and a small band of 500 British soldiers, comprising Dalits (Mahar caste).
The British emerged victorious, and names of the Dalit martyrs were engraved on an obelisk later erected by the colonial rulers there.
Raut has become the sixth accused in the sensational case to be granted bail till now, and earlier Bharadwaj, Gonsalves, Teltumbde, Ferreira and Rao were enlarged on bail at various points in the past.
Published: 21 Sep 2023, 1:50 PM