The Bombay High Court on Tuesday denied bail to activists Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Arun Ferreira, who were arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, reported Bar and Bench. The three are accused of having links with banned Maoist groups.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sarang Kotwal had been hearing the bail pleas on a regular basis since August 27. The court had reserved its orders on October 7.

The three were among 10 activists arrested by the Pune Police in June and August 2018 in connection with the violence that broke out in the village near Pune on January 1 that year between Dalits and Marathas. The police claimed that the violence had been triggered by a meeting called the Elgar Parishad event the day before in Pune that had been organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.

A Pune court had rejected their bail application in October 2018, following which they approached the High Court.

During an earlier hearing on October 1, Additional Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai, who represented the Pune Police, had alleged that Gonsalves and Ferreira were involved in recruiting cadre for Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Two days later, the police said the three activists were members of four outfits – Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee and Anuradha Gandhi Memorial – that were reportedly acting as frontal groups of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

The three accused, however, claimed there was no evidence to support the police case that they were creating a “war-like situation” against the government.

Ferreira’s counsel Sudeep Pasbola had argued that being inspired by Maoist or Leftist ideology was not a ground to incarcerate him. He also pointed out that there was no incriminating evidence against Ferreira.

Bharadwaj’s counsel Yug Mohit Chaudhry said the activist was being implicated because she was an office-bearer of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers. He also argued that the Pune Police had failed to submit any material to establish her involvement in the case. Seeking bail for Gonsalves, advocate Mihir Desai said there was no direct evidence against his client.

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