The Bombay High Court has sought a clarification from the Maharashtra government after the coronavirus test results of academic Anand Teltumbde and activist Mahesh Raut, both accused in the Elgar Parishad case, had identical findings on weight, height and other vital health parameters, PTI reported on Saturday.
The state government submitted the test results on August 3 and Raut’s counsel Vijay Hiremath highlighted the discrepancy on August 5. Last month, Teltumbde, Raut and co-accused Vernon Gonsalves had approached the court as they were in close proximity with Telugu poet Varavara Rao inside the Taloja jail. Rao tested positive for the coronavirus on July 16 and is undergoing treatment at the Nanavati hospital in Mumbai.
Hiremath claimed that while the report said Raut had tested negative for coronavirus, his vitals and other details were exactly the same as Teltumbde’s. He added that Teltumbde’s report showed that the academic had developed antibodies for the coronavirus, which means he must have been infected at some point.
“I told court that I was disputing my client’s [Raut’s] report,” Hiremath said. “How can the weight, height, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels, everything be identical for two different persons?”
Advocate Devyani Kulkarni, representing Teltumbde, said “alarming factors and questions” have been raised in connection with the test report, according to Mumbai Mirror.
The court questioned the authenticity of the reports and asked the state counsel and public prosecutor YP Yagnik to explain the matter.
Bhima Koregaon and Elgar Parishad cases
On January 1, 2018, violence erupted between Dalits and Marathas near the village of Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra’s Pune district, where lakhs of Dalits had converged to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon. Dalit Mahar soldiers fighting for the British Army had defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire in the battle in 1818.
The commemoration took place a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2. The Pune Police claimed that the violence in Bhima Koregaon was the result of speeches made at the Elgar Parishad event. They alleged that banned Maoist groups organised the event, and a first information report was filed in the matter.
In June 2018, the Pune Police arrested Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut from Nagpur, Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai, and Rona Wilson from Delhi, alleging that they had links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) organisation, and played a role in organising the Elgar Parishad event. In August 2018, the police arrested five more activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha. Teltumbde had at the time managed to stay out of prison by getting reprieve from the judiciary.
They were later also accused of involvement in a nationwide Maoist conspiracy to destabilise democracy, overthrow of the government by setting up an “anti-fascist front” and plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two cases were being investigated by the Pune Police, but earlier this year, the Centre transferred the Elgar Parishad inquiry to the National Investigation Agency.