Bombay High Court on Friday refused to grant anticipatory bails to Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde in the Bhima Koregaon case. The court, however, extended the interim protection from arrest granted to them for a period of four weeks so that they can approach the Supreme Court in appeal.
Earlier, in November the Pune sessions court had rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of Navlakha and Teltumbde. Navlakaha was arrested in August 2018 in connection with the elgar parishad case.
Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautham Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Vara Vara Rao were arrested on August 28th allegedly for their involvement in the organisation of Elgar Parishad.
The arrested activists were said to have links with CPI (Maoist) and were described as “Urban Maoist Sympathisers” by the Pune police.
The event that marked the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon was attended by thousands of people and incidents of stone-pelting were reported.
In the protest, four were injured and a man was killed. Following this, Maharashtra bandh was called by Dalit groups on 3 January 2018. As the protest intensified, more than 100 protestors were detained by the police.
The police were then forced to file an FIR on Hindutva activists Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote after widespread protests. Though Ekbote was arrested, once he was released on bail, the focus shifted towards the activists.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had criticized the Pune Police for procedural lapses in the way the arrests were made and had sought replies from both the Maharashtra police and the State government.
However, despite the criticism, the arrests of the activists continue on bizarre grounds such as being ‘urban Naxal sympathisers’.