SC decision on activists' arrest proves there was no crushing of dissent: Fadnavis

PTI
Friday, 28 September 2018

Fadnavis said the decision of the top court proved that there was "no crushing of dissent" or any "conspiracy" behind the action by the state police against Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha. 

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court's refusal to interfere with the probe by the state police against five Left-wing activists in connection with violence in Koregaon- Bhima in December last year. 

Fadnavis said the decision of the top court proved that there was "no crushing of dissent" or any "conspiracy" behind the action by the state police against Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha. 

The five are under arrest at their respective homes since August 29. 

"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 was reacting soon after the Supreme Court declined to appoint an SIT to probe the arrest of the five activists by the Pune police. 

The court said the arrests were not because of dissent of activists but there was prima facie material to show their link with banned CPI (Maoist) organisation. 

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 2:1 verdict, refused the plea seeking the immediate release of the activists. 

"The Supreme Court has vindicated the state of the government and the Pune police. The court has no doubt over the material evidence submitted," the chief minister told reporters here. 
He said the arrested people had "links" with banned naxal groups and that the police had not acted with any ulterior motive. 

"A conspiracy against the nation has been unearthed by the police," Fadnavis said. 

According to the Supreme Court order, the government will go to the appropriate court in the case, he said and expressed confidence that they will be brought to book for their role in conspiracy against the nation. 

"There is enough material that they were planning internal disturbances. We are confident that appropriate courts will grant us their custody," the chief minister said. 

"Urban naxals were also plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi," Fadnavis said. 

He also defended the state police for addressing a press conference after the arrest, which had come in for criticism. 

"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 said. 

"We will look into the fine print of the order regarding the police press conference. The press conference is not important but the real issue of conspiracy against the nation is. If holding the press conference was wrong, we will improve it," he said. 

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

Prominent Telugu poet Rao was arrested on August 28 from Hyderabad, while activists Gonsalves and Ferreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Navlakha from Delhi. 

The majority verdict by the Supreme Court said the protection of house arrest of the activists will remain in force for four more weeks to enable the accused to seek appropriate legal remedy at appropriate legal forum.

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