The Pune Police on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that activist Gautam Navlakha and the Maoist groups he was allegedly associated with were in touch with militant group Hizbul Mujahideen and Kashmiri separatist leaders, PTI reported. The court was hearing Navlakha’s plea seeking to quash a first information report filed against him for alleged links with Maoist.
A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre extended the protection from arrest granted to Navlakha until further orders.
Aruna Pai, the counsel for Pune Police, said some of the documents recovered from the laptops of activists Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling showed that Navlakha and the Maoist groups had conducted “bilateral talks” with Hizbul Mujahideen. “He has been liaising with banned terrorist organisations, including Hizbul Mujahideen, since 2011,” Pai claimed.
Pai also alleged that Navlakha had been in touch with Kashmiri separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Shakil Bakshi from 2011 to 2014. Navlakha’s lawyer Yug Chaudhry denied all the charges in court but Pai insisted that protection from arrest granted to the activist was impeding investigation. The arguments in the case will continue on Thursday.
“Our position is that this is a wrong accusation,” Yug Chaudhry told Scroll.in. “Nothing like this has ever happened.”
Navlakha and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao were arrested on August 28 for their alleged involvement in an event that preceded the violence between Dalits and Marathas at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune on January 1, 2018. They were subsequently placed under house arrest. The activists were booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Indian Penal Code.
Five other activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale – were arrested in June 2018 as part of the same investigation and a chargesheet was filed against them. The 10 activists are accused of masterminding the violence in Bhima Koregaon and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).