The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined an urgent hearing of a review petition challenging the decision to not order an inquiry into the arrests of five activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, ANI reported. Historian Romila Thapar had filed the review plea.
Five activists were arrested on June 6 and five more on August 28 as part of the Pune Police’s investigation into violence between Marathas and Dalits during an event in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1. A day after the second set of arrests, five citizens, including Thapar, filed a petition before the top court to seek their release. Later, an intervention application was also filed on behalf of the five activists arrested earlier.
On September 28, a three-judge bench allowed investigation officers to continue with their inquiry and rejected the plea for an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team into the arrests. The court also extended the house arrest of five of the activists by four weeks.
Activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao, were arrested in August. The ones arrested in June were Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale.
The Maharashtra Police defended the arrest on the grounds that the accused were planning large-scale violence as part of the agenda of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They had earlier claimed the activists were involved in the Elgar Parishad in Pune that was followed by the caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
The police have said the activists’ speeches at the event were meant to incite hatred and claimed to have seized thousands of letters exchanged among “underground” and “overground” Maoists. Two retired judges who organised the event have said that the arrested activists had nothing to do with the event.