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SC Verdict in Activists' Arrest Proves There Was No Crushing of Dissent, Says Fadnavis

The Maharashtra chief minister said a conspiracy against the nation had been unearthed and political parties should desist from supporting the activists or they would stand exposed.

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Updated:September 28, 2018, 4:57 PM IST
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SC Verdict in Activists' Arrest Proves There Was No Crushing of Dissent, Says Fadnavis
File image of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. (Photo Credit: PTI)
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The Supreme Court verdict dismissing a plea to set up an SIT on a request by the five activists arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case has come as a shot in the arm for the Maharashtra government.

Welcoming the decision on Friday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the ruling proved that there was "no crushing of dissent" or "conspiracy" behind the action by the state police against Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha.

The five activists have been under house arrest since August 29 after they were arrested in connection with the violence in Bhima-Koregaon in December last year.

“This is a victory for the Pune police which collected forensic and collaborative evidence. We will move appropriate courts and take custody of the arrested persons," Fadnavis said.

He said the apex court had vindicated the state of the government and the Pune police, adding that a “conspiracy against the nation has been unearthed”. "There is enough material that they were planning internal disturbances. We are confident that appropriate courts will grant us their custody. Urban naxals were also plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Fadnavis said.

Defending the state police for addressing a press conference after the arrest, which had come in for criticism, the chief minister said: “A lot of things were said against the police after the arrest and an atmosphere was created by pseudo, so-called neo-liberals in the media that the arrests have been made without evidence. The police had to say that the arrests were not motivated but backed by real and powerful evidence."

He added that they would look into the fine print of the order regarding the police press conference and if holding it was wrong, “we will improve it”.

Fadnavis also said political parties should not support the arrested persons for political reasons after the SC verdict "otherwise they will stand exposed”.

Welcoming the judgment, Pune Police chief K Venkatesham said they would continue to "professionally" investigate the case. He said after four weeks, police will seek custody of the accused — who will remain under house arrest for four more weeks — but in the meantime, the investigation will go on.

Joint commissioner of police (law and order) Shivaji Bodkhe said the probe carried out in the case so far was within the framework of law and conducted in a professional manner. "I am happy that today the court recognised the investigation and evidences collected by the investigating officer," Bodkhe said.

The Pune Police have been maintaining that right from searching the premises of the five activists and collecting the evidence, everything was videographed.

The Supreme Court on Friday said the arrests of the activists were not because of their dissent but there was prima facie material to show their link with banned CPI (Maoist) organisation. It disagreed with the PIL by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of the activists.
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