The Maharashtra Police on Wednesday told the Bom bay High Court that the activists who were arrested in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence were mobilising Dalits in a bid to “overthrow the government”, PTI reported. The police claimed the coup was planned by the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

The claims were made by Pune’s Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar in an affidavit submitted to the court. The affidavit was filed in response to a bail petition by accused Arun Ferreira. Justice PN Deshmukh scheduled the next hearing for April 5.

The Pune Police reiterated their stance that Ferreira and the other accused were members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The affidavit claimed the accused were mobilising the public, particularly the Dalit community, on a massive scale “both military and politically”.

“The CPI (Maoist) is undertaking special efforts to build the party among Dalit masses,” the police claimed in the affidavit. “They try to rally Dalit masses extensively by taking up struggles for their self-respect and against discrimination, oppression, degradation and physical attacks by the upper caste feudal forces in order to achieve their motive.”

The police also said that Ferreira and human rights activist Vernon Gonsalves had recruited members for the banned outfit.

The police have alleged that the accused organised the Elgaar Parishad event to mark the 200th year of the battle of Bhima Koregaon on December 31, a day before clashes erupted in the village between Dalits and Marathas. Gonsalves, Ferreira, Rao and Bharadwaj were arrested in August 2018.

The police alleged that Ferreira and the other accused gave “inflammatory, provocative and rebellious” speeches at the Elgar Parishad meeting. “The intention of Ferreira and other accused persons along with the banned terrorist organisation CPI [Maoist] is to topple the democratically elected governments [Centre and state] by violent means, that is by creating mayhem, spreading terror and hatred,” it claimed. “The objective is to assassinate important public functionaries and strike terror in the public.”

In the bail petition, Ferreira had rejected the charges and alleged that he “has been falsely implicated” in the case. “The applicant’s name has been added as an accused despite his name not being in the FIR and despite it being admitted that the applicant was not present at the Elgaar Parishad nor was involved in the preparation or organising of the said Parishad,” the bail petition had said, adding that his name was added “because of his critical views and writings against the government and those in power”.

The police had filed its first chargesheet in the case at a special court for Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in November. It had named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June.

The chargesheet also named five others as accused who are currently underground – Milind Teltumbde, an alleged Maoist living in Yavatmal; Ritupan Goswami, a JNU student allegedly recruited to the CPI Marxist-Leninist by GN Saibaba, but who could also reportedly be leading a civilian life in Assam; Comrades Manglu and Deepu, both aliases; and Prashant Bose, secretary of the Eastern Regional Bureau and known senior politburo member of the CPI (Maoist).

On February 21, the Pune police filed a supplementary chargesheet against Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Ferreira, Gonsalves and CPI(Maoist) leader Ganapathy.

Teltumbde called the charges against him the “vilest plot in post-Independence India” in an open letter and added that there was no such thing as an urban Maoist and that this term had been fabricated by the Pune police.

Security experts have also questioned the Maharashtra police’s claims that the accused collaborated with the CPI(Maoist) as part of a larger conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and destabilise India. The experts have said these allegations had “the hallmarks of a fabrication”.