Activists’ Arrest: Gautam Navlakha’s Release Leaves Others Hopeful
The Delhi High Court’s order to free Gautam Navlakha, one of the activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, from house arrest, has activists hopeful of the legal battle ahead for the four others still under house arrest since August.
The Delhi High Court granted Navlakha relief saying that last week, the Supreme Court had given him the liberty to approach the appropriate forum within four weeks to seek further recourse, which he availed. The High Court also quashed a local court’s transit remand to the Maharashtra police to transfer Navlakha to Pune.
“This I feel is a step forward. After the one-month high voltage arguments that went on before the Supreme Court, this has been a very timely closure against one of the house arrestees. This will lead the way for justice for the remaining house arrestees.”Susan Abraham, advocate
Advocate Susan Abraham, wife of Vernon Gonsalves who was one of the five arrested on 28 August, and members of 38 other organisations held a press conference today, raising concerns over the ‘miscarriage of justice’ in the aftermath of the Bhima Koregaon violence. Activists Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha have been under arrest at their respective homes since August 29.
Activists Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson however, have been in police custody since June 6. Condemning the police’s decision to invoke the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the five arrested, civil society organisations addressing the press said,
“We condemn the continued use of the draconian UAPA in a concerted manner to target dissenting and inconvenient voices alike. UAPA, an act that came into existence in 1967, has no place in a democratic society. UAPA has been regularly used against Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, activists, lawyers, journalists, etc in order to spread a reign of terror.”
Concerned with the Maharashtra Government’s move to withdraw at least 6 riot cases against Sambhaji Bhide, the main suspect in Koregaon-Bhima violence, members of the civil society urged the Govt to act against right wing leavers Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote.
“10 years ago, the cases which were instituted following the Khairlanji massacre, those cases are still going on. How dare this Government take back the cases against the perpetrators of violence on Dalits, Muslims and basically creating an atmosphere of terror.”Susan Abraham, advocate