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Not Curbing Dissent But Protecting Society from Chaos: Maharashtra Tells SC on Arrest of Activists

Maharashtra government told Supreme Court that the arrested activists were 'involved in not only planning and preparing for violence but were in the process of creating large-scale violence.'

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:September 5, 2018, 12:33 PM IST
Not Curbing Dissent But Protecting Society from Chaos: Maharashtra Tells SC on Arrest of Activists
Arun Ferreira, a human rights activist and lawyer, after he was arrested by the Pune police in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence case. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: The Maharashtra government has strongly rebutted in the Supreme Court that the five activists were arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence due to their 'dissent' or 'difference in their political or other ideologies'.

Submitting its reply affidavit in the court, the state government maintained that "they are involved in not only planning and preparing for violence but were in the process of creating large-scale violence, destruction of property resulting into chaos in the society."

The affidavit, filed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Pune, emphasised that the FIR registered against these activists disclosed commission of serious offences and that incriminating materials have emerged against them.

It said that these activists along with others were planning to "carry out a violence, planned ambush/rebellion against the “enemy” (which is our country and its security forces)."

Stating that the police are in possession of cogent evidence against the activists, the affidavit added: "This Hon’ble Court is dealing with persons against whom cogent evidence has so far come on record, showing that they are active members of the banned terrorist organisation namely, Communist Party of India (Maoist)."

Simultaneous raids had targeted the residences of prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha in New Delhi.

Rao, Bharadwaj, Farreira, Gonzalves and Navalakha were arrested under IPC Section 153 (A), which relates to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place or birth, residence, language and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

Subsequently, a writ petition was filed in the top court by noted historian Romila Thapar and four other eminent individuals, contending that the arrest of the activists was an instance of punishing dissent and difference of opinion.

During the hearing, the court had also remarked that "dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don't allow dissent, the pressure valve of democracy will burst."

It fixed the case for hearing on September 6 and said that all the five activists shall be put under house arrest and not in jail.

In its attempt to dispel the arguments over dissent, the state government has told the court that a mere dissenting view, difference in ideology or vehement objections to the political thinking can not only not be prohibited but should always be welcomed in any democratic country.


The affidavit further said: "It is, however, submitted that the instant case is a case in which five accused persons for whose benefit the present petition is filed are not arrested based upon any dissenting views expressed by them or difference in their political or other ideologies."

The ACP said in the affidavit that the arrested persons are a part of a well-thought out criminal conspiracy and being active members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

"They arranged public meetings under the banner of ‘Elgaar Parishad’. It appears clearly that “Elgaar” is corrupted version of “Yalgaar” which means “the attack”...they were found to be playing a very vital role in the criminal offences," said the affidavit.

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