Bhima-Koregaon violence: SC extends house arrest, no SIT formed
After the Supreme Court, on September 20, reserved its judgement on the case challenging the arrest of five activists in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence, the apex court, today, extended the activists' house arrest by another four weeks. Additionally, the SC refused to constitute a SIT, and asked Pune police to go ahead with their probe. Here are the details.
The SC bench's observations about the case
Reading the judgement of the bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra, Justice Khanwilkar observed that the case wasn't one of arrest for dissent. He added that the accused had already resorted to legal remedy before courts, and that petitioners challenging their arrest could take recourse of law. The bench would not make further observations, as it would hamper the investigation, added Justice Khanwilkar.
Justice DY Chandrachud gave a dissenting verdict
However, Justice DY Chandrachud, who was also part of the bench, gave a dissenting verdict. He said that there was serious concern over the police's probe in the case, and their use of media to cast aspersions on the activists. Chandrachud added that there was no basis to link the activists to Maoists, and that liberty shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of conjectures.
Backstory: Why the five activists were arrested
The activists - Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha - were arrested on August 28 for alleged links to Maoists. Police believe that provocative speeches given during the Elgaar Parishad event, allegedly organized by Maoists, sparked the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January. However, historian Romila Thapar and her associates had challenged the arrests, claiming it was a crackdown on dissent.
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.
On January 1, Marthas and Dalits clashed violently, killing 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.