#BhimaKoregaon: Activists Bhardwaj, Ferreira, Gonsalves sent to judicial custody
A little more than a week after the Pune Sessions Court rejected their bail applications, activists Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves have been sent to 14 days of judicial custody. The three activists, along with Varavara Rao and Gautam Navalakha, had been arrested in August over alleged ties to Maoists and for allegedly inciting the Bhima-Koregaon violence of January 1. Here's more.
Arun Ferreira alleged that he had been assaulted by police
One of the accused Arun Ferreira alleged in Court that he was beaten up during custodial interrogation. He said on 4th Nov during interrogation he was slapped about 8-10 times by police officials and that on 5th November he was taken to hospital as well. #bhimakoregaon https://t.co/1wv8Lf9aU1— ANI (@ANI) November 6, 2018
Backstory: Why the activists were arrested
The activists were arrested on August 28 by the Pune police for allegedly having a hand in inciting the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1 that killed one. Police claim that provocative speeches given during the Elgaar Parishad event sparked the January 1 violence between Marathas and Dalits. However, the arrests were challenged by historian Romila Thapar and her associates in court.
What was the Elgaar Parishad event?
The Elgaar Parishad event was held on December 31, 2017 in Pune to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon where 500 Dalit soldiers of the British Indian Army defeated 20,000 Peshwas led by Baji Rao II.
Violent protests on January 1 killed one
Following the Elgaar Parishad event, lakhs of Dalits had gathered to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1. However, clashes broke out between Marathas and Dalits, killing one. After the clashes, violent protests erupted across the state, including in Pune, Nagpur, Baramati, Aurangabad, and Thane. Police later said that investigations had revealed Maoist involvement in the financing of the Elgaar Parishad event.
The Supreme Court had rejected Romila Thapar's plea
While Maharashtra police claimed that the arrests were made for the activists' links to Maoists, Thapar and co alleged that the arrests were a crackdown on dissent. Subsequently, the Supreme Court ordered that the activists be kept under house arrest. However, on September 28, the SC rejected Romila Thapar's plea challenging the arrests, extended the activists' house arrest for four weeks, and asked Pune Police to proceed with their probe.