Bhima-Koregaon: activist Arun Ferreira claims to have been assaulted during interrogation

On 6 November, a special court ordered that activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves be held in pretrial detention for 14 days for alleged Maoist ties and their roles in the controversial Elgaar Parishad and subsequent clashes between Bhima and Koregaon.

The three activists were brought to court in Pune after the end of their police custody on 6 November.

In court, Mr. Ferreira claimed to have been physically assaulted during his interrogation under surveillance by Assistant Police Commissioner Shivaji Pawar, who was responsible for the investigation in the Bhima-Koregaon case. He claimed to have been slapped several times by the IO during his interrogation on 4 November.

Ferreira's lawyer said the blows caused swelling in his eyes, which led the activist to be admitted to Sassoon General Hospital for treatment the next day.

Mr. Ferreira added that officials had questioned him relentlessly about his association with the Indian Association of People's Advocates (IAPL), which, according to the police, was a front for the Indian Communist Party. (Maoist) forbidden.

In October, during his bail hearing, the activist's lawyer stated that IAPL was fighting legal battles against the oppressed and marginalized layers of society and that the organization worked well within the constitutional limits.

The three men were arrested for the first time on August 28 with militant poet Varavara Rao and civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha as part of the second national crackdown on "urban naxalism" by police in Pune investigating clashes between Bhima and Koregaon on January 1st.

However, relieving the arrested activists on August 29, the Supreme Court ordered them to put themselves under house arrest following a petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and others criticizing the methods used by the police from Pune to make these arrests.

The plea also called for the immediate release of the five human rights activists and an SIT inquiry monitored by the Supreme Court regarding the actions of the Pune police.

On September 5, the government of Maharashtra declared in the Supreme Court that the activists had not been arrested for their "divergent opinions", but that there was convincing evidence to link them to Maoist organizations. .

After several extensions of the duration of the house arrest, on September 28, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the arrests of activists and declared At first glance material to show that they had links with a banned Maoist group.

The arrested activists had four weeks to search for alternatives, which led Ms. Bharadwaj, Mr. Ferreira and Mr. Gonsalves to file their bail applications in the Pune court.

The pleas were rejected by the court on October 26. Messrs. Ferreira and Gonsalves were taken into custody at their respective homes in Mumbai that evening, while Ms. Bharadwaj was arrested the next day from her home in Faridabad, Haryana State. .

On October 27, the Pune Court ordered the police three days in police custody.

The prosecution said the three activists had been charged by the Maoists with recruiting executives from renowned educational institutions such as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Jawaharlal University. Nehru (JNU) to spread naxalism.

The prosecution had further asserted that Ms. Bharadwaj was apparently an active member of the CPI banned (Maoist).

During its first national breakthrough on June 6, linked to the Elgaar Parishad meeting and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes, the city police arrested activist Sudhir Dhawale, the prominent human rights lawyer Surendra. Gadling, tribal activist Mahesh Raut, the English professor of Nagpur University, Shoma Sen, and an activist. Rona Wilson.

All activists were slapped by the provisions of the Prevention of Illicit Activities Act and the Weapons Act.

The two police attacks in Pune – in June and August – were based on a FIR recorded at the city's Vishrambaug Wada police station, in connection with apparently provocative speeches made during the Elgaar Parishad controversy held on December 31, 2017. , the day before the clashes. broke out in Bhima-Koregaon.

The FIR relied on a complaint by Tushar Damgude against six participants, including Mr. Dhawale, from Parishad. The people named in the FIR were members of Kabir Kala Manch, a radical Dalit cultural troupe.

The complaint accused KKM militants of making a number of "inflammatory" speeches and "social division" interventions during the performance and recitals of the troupe at Elgaar Parishad, which lasted eight hours and were followed by thousands of people. among more than 250 progressive social groups, including several leftist groups and ambedkarites across Maharashtra.

Several activists and intellectuals critical of this establishment later claimed that the arrests were a diversion measure of the government in power to protect the real perpetrators of the riots of Bhima-Koregaon.

Police in Pune justified the arrests of activists and the raids on their homes, alleging that they were part of a plot destabilizing the state and claiming that these searches were part of the raids. a broader investigation into the activities of banned groups such as the CPI (the Maoist).

Soldiers of the Rural Police of Pune set up FIRs against Hindutva rulers, Milind Ekbote, at the head of the Samasta Hindu Aghadi marginal group, and Sambhaji Bhide & Guruji & # 39; founder of the right Shiv Pratishthan, immediately after the riots of Bhima-Koregaon On January 1, one person died in addition to aggravating social tensions in Maharashtra.

Although no action was taken to investigate Mr. Bhide, the Pune District and Sessional Court granted bail to Mr. Ekbote in April.