Around the time five activists arrested under an anti-terror law were given some reprieve by the Supreme Court today, the Pune police strongly justified the arrests, accusing the activists of crimes that included "deliberate involvement in a larger Maoist conspiracy" and "showing intolerance to the present political system".
The police also said they made the arrests based on strong and conclusive proof. Ten activists were searched and five - Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves - were arrested after synchronized raids last evening. To a petition challenging the action, the Supreme Court today ordered that until it takes up the case on September 6, the activists would be under house arrest.
Unfazed, the Pune police offered what it believed was a strong case for their arrest in connection with violence at a mass Dalit event held on December 31-January 1.
"The analysis of documents shows a conspiracy of CPI (Maoists) to overthrow a government established by law," a senior police officer said. He said the event, "Elgaar Parishad" was being used to cobble a nationwide front.
"Some of the evidence collected suggests that there was a plan to target highest political functionaries," he said, adding that the evidence pointed to their role in providing funds and weapons and radicalising the youth.
Laptops, memory cards and other incriminating evidence have been seized from them, the police claimed.
Police documents on yesterday's arrests, however, do not mention an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as had been brought up against one of the arrested activists, Varavara Rao.
The police say these arrests are based on evidence gathered after the arrest of five other activists earlier this year in June in connection with the January 1 clashes that broke out at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune, between Dalits and upper caste Marathas at an annual event.
The activists, police sources have claimed, were monitored closely for almost one week and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was briefed about "fresh evidence" before the raids.
Police said the accused had been in touch with around 35 major universities and colleges 'to recruit young students to take their movement ahead'.
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