The Pune Police claimed on Thursday that they had found a letter at the home of one of the activists they arrested a day before, which hints at a plan for “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”, PTI reported. The police made the statement when the five were produced before a court.
The court remanded them to police custody till June 14.
Activist Rona Wilson and lawyer Surendra Gadling were among the five arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). All five are social activists working with Dalits, Adivasis and political prisoners. They were arrested over a month after raids at their homes and offices in connection with an event to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on December 31.
The police believe the event was funded by the banned outfit. A case filed in January claimed that the event had led to the violence a day later, in which killed one person was killed. Two people accused of the violence on January 1 – Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide – are Hindutva activists. Neither of them have been arrested so far.
Referring to the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar quoted from the letter found at Wilson’s home: “We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi incident. It sounds suicidal and there is a chance that we might fail but the party must deliberate on our proposal.”
The police suspect the letter was from a central committee member of the CPI (Maoist), according to The Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Kadam had told reporters that a letter allegedly seized from Wilson’s house had been sent by fugitive Maoist leader Milind Teltumbde.
Maharashtra CM receives death threat letters
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has received two threat letters allegedly from Maoist organisations, PTI reported, quoting unidentified state government officials. The letters came after the recent anti-Maoist operations in Gadchiroli that killed 39 Maoists. The police is investigating the case.
“Several facts have surfaced in the letter,” Fadnavis told ANI. “Police have seized it and it will be presented before the court. A probe is underway to find more links.”
NDA ally objects to arrests
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale has said that it was not right to arrest Dalit rights activists and label them Naxalites. Athawale is the chief of Republican Party of India (Athavale), which is part of the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.
The police should investigate the role of Sambhaji Bhide in the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, Athawale told The Indian Express.
“There should have been no arrests of Dalits in the Koregaon-Bhima matter,” he told the newspaper. “It is not right to term the Ambedkarite activists as Naxalites so as to take legal action against them.”
Athawale said he would discuss the matter with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “If there has been injustice done to them, I will extend any kind of help that I can,” he said.