Bhima-Koregaon: Pune police get police custody of activists; SC rejects review plea seeking SIT probe

A day after the Supreme Court rejected eminent historian Romila Thapar's petition seeking a review of the top court's earlier refusal to constitute a SIT to probe the charges against five activists arrested in cases linked to the January 1 Bhima Koregaon communal clash, the Pune police secured police custody of three of the five champions of civil liberties, ending their court-ordered house arrest. The five activists, who were arrested on August 28 by the Pune police and later sent to house arrest under the top court's orders, are Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bhardwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha. On Friday (October 27) while Gonsalves and Ferreira were sent to Police custody till November 6 by a Pune Sessions Court, Bhardwaj was arrested from her home in Haryana's Faridabad by Pune Police and was being taken to the Maharashtrian city. A special court in Pune had rejected the bail pleas Bharadwaj, Gonsalves and Ferreira on Friday. Gonsalves and Ferreira were produced before court for remand on Saturday following which they were sent to Police custody. With the term of Bhardwaj's house arrest coming to an end and the court refusing to extend the same, she too was taken into police custody on Saturday and the Maharashtra police secured her transit remand to take her to Pune. The three activists were under house arrest as per the order of the apex court. On August 30, the Supreme Court had directed all the five activists to be placed under house arrest. On September 28, the apex court had granted a period of four weeks to the activists to exercise other legal remedies available under the law, while rejecting a plea by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of the five arrested rights activists and an SIT probe into their arrest. Accordingly, Bharadwaj, Ferreira and Gonsalves had filed their bail pleas in the Pune sessions court in the second week of October. Earlier this week, the Hyderabad High Court extended Rao’s house arrest period by three weeks while Navlakha’s arrest has already been quashed by the Delhi High Court.                                                                                                          —India Legal Bureau