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Bhima Koregaon case: Family members of social activists, lawyers hold virtual meet

All activists were arrested by Pune police claiming their involvement in the violence, which took place against Dalits gathered at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

To mark over two years since arrests in the Elgaar Parishad case, family members of the social activists, lawyers and activists gathered in a virtual meeting Saturday claiming they were misleadingly concerned for raising their voice against the government.

Nine persons, including Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferriera, Vernon Gonsalves, P Varavara Rao, Shoma Sen and Sudha Bharadwaj, were arrested in 2018 by Pune police claiming their involvement in the violence, which took place against Dalits gathered at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. Three others, including Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha and Hany Babu were arrested this year by the NIA, which took over the probe later.

Babu, associate professor of Delhi University, was arrested on July 28. His wife, Jenny Rowena said his crime was only that he stood for social justice and reservations, and against discrimination. “Both of us came through the OBC category and were trying to make the university a socially just place. Our home was raided last year and his laptop was taken without following any procedure only to be later claimed a hidden folder was found in it. Anyone can create such a folder after the gadgets were taken without following proper process,” Rowena said.

Sudha Bharadwaj, who is a lawyer and activist, working in Chhattisgarh, had sought temporary bail on grounds of Covid-19 and her existing health issues but it was rejected this week by the Bombay High Court. Her daughter, Maaysha, said she was dejected that despite concerns of her health, she was not being released on bail. “Two medical reports showed she had developed a heart condition and it is now being said it has been cured. If heart diseases are getting cured this easily at Byculla women’s jail, everyone suffering from it should take treatment there,” Maaysha said.

The event, organised by People’s Union for Civil Liberties, was attended by others including senior lawyers Rebecca John and Mihir Desai.

Navlakha’s partner, Sahba Hussain, said the accused were being deprived of basic amenities in prison. “I had never thought he would be jailed for his writings. It is being done to instill fear in everybody and it is not just in this case but in other cases as well including the Delhi riots,” she said.

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