Three rights activists sent to police remand till November 6

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Pune, Oct 27 (IANS) A Pune special court on Saturday sent three civil liberties activists, Shubha Bharadwaj, Vernon S. Gonsalves and Arun T. Ferreira, to police custody till November 6 for their alleged involvement in the Koregaon-Bhima caste riots on January 1, officials said.

The development came a day after the Special Judge of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Court, K. D. Vadane rejected their bail applications in the case filed against them by the Vishrambaug police station here in January this year.

Shortly after their bail pleas were rejected, Gonsalves was arrested from his Pune home and Ferreira from Thane. They were under ‘house arrest’ for almost two months following a Supreme Court directive.

A police team, which had gone to Faridabad, Haryana, nabbed Bharadwaj and brought her to Pune where she was produced before the special court late this evening.

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Special Judge Vadane has directed the police to provide her with medications whenever required.

The three – Bharadwaj, Gonsalves and Ferreira – are among the prime accused in the cases filed pertaining to the Elgar Parishad of December 31, 2017, leading to the Koregaon-Bhima caste riots of January 1 this year.

In the remand plea, the Pune Police contended that Gonsalves and Ferreira were entrusted with recruitment through the Radical Students Union (RSU) on behalf of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and sending them to the guerrilla warfare zones. The police said they wanted to probe how many and who had been hired for these causes.

The police also need to investigate the sources of funds and for what activities the monies were being used by the two accused.

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The remand application claimed that the police have unearthed a major conspiracy to ‘overthrow’ the democratically elected Indian government with violent means and they wanted to probe this further.

Establishing connections with the earlier group of activists arrested in June, the police said Gonsalves was in regular contact with another co-accused in the case, Sudhir Dhawale.

The investigators wanted to examine electronic devices in their (Gonsalves-Ferreira) presence, probe their financial and bank dealings, documents, emails, social media accounts and mobile call records.

In August, the Pune Police had raided and arrested five accused including Bharadwaj, Gonsalves, Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha (now released) and P. Varavara Rao (currently under house arrest in Hyderabad).

Earlier in June, the Pune Police had nabbed activists Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling and Mahesh Raut in the Koregaon-Bhima case.

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Besides the Koregaon-Bhima violence, the police said the accused had links with Maoist and Kashmiri terror groups, were hatching a conspiracy to carry out a high-level political assassination in a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-style operation’, procuring arms and ammunition, seeking to incite disturbances and violence in the country to topple the democratically elected government.



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