Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Bhima Koregaon violence case: Bombay High Court grants bail to activist Mahesh Raut 

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The High Court of Bombay on Thursday granted bail to tribal rights activist Mahesh Raut, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad larger conspiracy case. 

The Division Bench of Justice A.S. Gadkari and Justice Sharmila Deshmukh, however, stayed the bail order for two weeks at the request of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Raut became the sixth person to get bail in the case related to the clashes that broke out at Shaniwar Wada area of Pune on January 1, 2018, leading to the death of a 28-year-old youth and injuries to five people.

NIA had arrested Raut on June 6, 2018 under the stringent provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He has remained behind the bars since. 

The High Court noted that several provisions of UAPA, under which Raut was charged, were prima facie inapplicable. 

A detailed copy of the order is awaited.

Appearing for the tribal rights activist, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai contended that Raut was not a member of the banned CPI (Maoist) outfit as claimed by NIA but in fact was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Fellowship. He was an activist working for adivasis in Gadchiroli.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Devang Vyas and Advocate Sandesh Patil, appearing for NIA, argued that Raut’s bail was rightly rejected by the trial court, urging the High Court to consider the larger conspiracy to wage war against the country.

The counsels for NIA claimed that they had evidence to show that the CPI (Maoist) had given Raut Rs five lakh along with co-accused Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale, who were also arrested in the case. 

They said they have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Raut had participated in panchayat meetings in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli area.

The national agency contended that the whole ideology of Naxalism revolved around the idea that it viewed a democratically-elected government as the enemy and considered those of their own killed as martyrs. They mobilise and mislead the youth, it added.

The counsels alleged that the party ‘created’ a scenario, which led to violence at Bhima Koregaon. 

However, the High Court rejected the arguments on the grounds that there was no intention to ‘kill’ the person. The person died in the riots, it added.

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