Sudha Bharadwaj in Jail for a Year, Police have Found No Evidence, Says Lawyer
Human rights advocate Sudha Bharadwaj (L) after she was arrested by the Pune police in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence, in Faridabad. (Image: PTI)
Mumbai: Activist Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, told the Bombay High Court on Friday that she had been in jail for one whole year and the Pune police had failed to produce any credible evidence against her.
Bharadwaj has filed a bail application in the high court.
Her lawyer Yug Chaudhry told Justice Sarang Kotwal that the police merely relied on six documents, most of them typed letters and some of them naming her, to build their case against her.
None of the letters was written by her, addressed to her or even found in her possession and therefore, she could not be denied bail on the basis of those, Chaudhry argued.
Even if one were to believe the police's version, it was not their case that Bharadwaj, if set free, would abscond or tamper with evidence or influence witnesses, the lawyer said.
"Besides, what evidence or witnesses could I influence? All evidence in the case is in the form of hard drives and computers and typed documents already seized by the police. And there are no witnesses to threaten," he said.
"The Pune police has failed to examine any witnesses or produce any material in the last one year to directly incriminate me (Bharadwaj)," Chaudhry said.
He also read out portions of the six documents produced on record by the police.
Some of these letters and minutes of meetings held by "Maoist members" in Nagpur on January 2 last year named Bharadwaj, but they referred to her activism or her work with the Indian Association of People's Lawyers and the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee, neither of which was a banned organisation, Chaudhry argued.
The police, in their affidavit opposing bail to Bharadwaj, had also accused her of having formed an "anti-fascist front" along with some of the co-accused in the case, he said.
The police had alleged that through this front, Bharadwaj and others planned to "topple the democratically elected government, assassinate political figures and threaten the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India", but none of the six documents suggested such conspiracies, Chaudhry said.
"Besides, last I heard, fascism was a very bad thing. To be anti-fascist, I should hope, should be a duty for all of us," the lawyer said.
Bharadwaj was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in September last year in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017.
The police had alleged that Maoists had backed the conclave and the inflammatory speeches delivered at the event had triggered violence at the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial the next day.