- Pune police sources claim the accused were planning a "big conspiracy"
- It is not yet clear what this conspiracy was
- 10 activists were searched, 5 were arrested on Tuesday in multi-city raid
After the arrest of five rights activists on Tuesday, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, Pune police sources claim that their arrests were based on evidence that the accused were planning a "big conspiracy".
It was not clear what this conspiracy was.
The activists, claim police sources, were monitored closely for almost one week by the Pune police. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was briefed about "fresh evidence" before the raids. Again, no details were given of what this fresh evidence was.
Police also said there was "no fresh detail" on links to an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as suggested by some media reports.
Ten activists were searched and five - Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves - were arrested after synchronized raids last evening.
The police say these arrests follow the arrest of five other activists earlier this year in June, when the police retrieved a huge amount of data.
Those arrested earlier were charged with the January 1 clashes that broke out at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune, between Dalits and upper caste Marathas at an annual event.
Police say that the fresh round of arrests were of individuals also behind the caste clashes, but - in a seeming contradiction - also said they are yet to ascertain 'how the accused succeeded in inciting the violence'.
Police said the accused had been in touch with around 35 major universities and colleges 'to recruit young students to take their movement ahead'.
The police will question students who were approached by the accused, the sources say.
"They were in touch with number of professors across India, have formed some WhatsApp and social media accounts for communicating with each other," said police sources.
Police claim that Varavara Rao was the think tank for "Urban Naxals" and one of its financiers.
Gautam Navlakha, the sources allege, used to coordinate with 'Naxal extremists in Kashmir', a bewildering claim, given that there has so far been no credible proof of Naxal activity in Kashmir.
They also say Sudha Bharadwaj and Arun Ferriera 'use to give all legal assistance whenever required', not making it clear to whom the assistance is given.
"Emails exchanged between these people arrested now and in June gives clear evidence to Pune police that they were interconnected with each other and also communicating in some code languages," said the police sources.
The police say they have seized laptops, hard disks, pen drives, documents, journals, mobile phones and documents from not only the accused but also their relatives.