A Mumbai court on Tuesday reserved the order on the bail plea of activist and Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, reported Bar & Bench. The special National Investigation Agency court will pronounce its verdict on March 22.

Swamy’s bail plea was deferred on March 11 after the NIA filed an application to place on record additional documents in the case and Swamy’s lawyer had sought time to respond to them.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the judge allowed the NIA’s application that was to invite the court’s attention to the case diary of the investigation. A case diary is a document that contains details of how the inquiry was carried out and other particulars such as the date on which the investigation began. Swamy’s lawyers opposed the application, saying that once the chargesheet was filed, the case diary cannot be considered. After hearing the arguments, the court closed the bail application for orders.

The 83-year-old tribal rights activist was arrested on October 8 by the central agency from Ranchi, Jharkhand, and brought to Mumbai the next day.

In his bail plea, Swamy had claimed that he was being targeted by the central agency because of his writings and work related to caste and land struggles of the people of India and violation of democratic rights of the marginalised citizens of the country.

The bail plea had also said that the tribal rights priest was not connected in any way to the organisation of the Elgar Parishad event held in Pune on December 31, 2017.

The NIA has, however, claimed that it has sufficient evidence to prima facie prove that the accused was involved in the conspiracy and was directly involved in the Naxalite movement.

Elgar Parishad

The first Elgar Parishad was held in Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, a day before lakhs of Dalits from across India gathered at the village of Koregaon Bhima to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle in which a Dalit contingent of the British army defeated the region’s Peshwa Brahmins.

Since June 2018, many activists and intellectuals have been arrested and denied bail for allegedly provoking the Bhima Koregaon violence, operating as “urban Naxals” with Maoist connections and carrying out “anti-national” activities. Besides Swamy, they include educators Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen and Hany Babu, poets Varavara Rao and Sudhir Dhawale, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj and activists Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves.

In February, the Pune Police booked former Aligarh Muslim University student leader Sharjeel Usmani for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups during his speech at the Elgar Parishad 2021 conclave on January 30.

The authorities claim they were associated with organising the first Elgar Parishad, though most of them have denied this.

Meanwhile, Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote – also accused of instigating the 2018 violence – have not been arrested.

The second Elgar Parishad on January 30 was organised as a tribute to the arrested activists as well as a reiteration of their anti-caste, anti-Hindutva ideologies. The date of the event marked the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the birthday of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student of Hyderabad Central University whose death by suicide in 2016 had triggered a nationwide movement against casteism in educational institutions.