A team of Pune city police today raided the house of Stan Swamy, a resident of Namkum in Ranchi city of Jharkhand, who is named as an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case for his alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist, for “gathering more evidence”.
A team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, the investigation officer in the case, raided Swamy’s house around 7 am Wednesday and seized digital devices and other material from the spot.
Police officials said that Swamy was not arrested even though his house was searched. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 1) Suhas Bavache confirmed that Swamy’s house was raided for gathering more evidence as a part of the ongoing investigation in the case and material were seized from the spot for further probe.
This is the second raid at Swamy’s house. Earlier, his house was searched by the Pune city police during multi-city raids conducted in this case in August last year.
Swamy is a Christian priest from Ranchi. He has been claiming that he was framed in the Elgaar Parishad case because he has been working for the rights of the tribals and questioning the role of the government.
The police have so far booked 23 persons including top underground Maoist leader Mupalla Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathy and researcher Anand Teltumbde in this case under relevant sections of the IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). All are alleged to be active members of the banned CPI-Maoist.
The investigation into this case began after an FIR was lodged in connection with the Elgaar Parishad organised in Pune on December 31, 2017, on the occasion of the 200th commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The FIR initially named Elgaar Parishad organisers Harshali Potdar, Sudhir Dhawale of Republican Panthers along with Kabir Kala Manch artists Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap, Deepak Dhengle alleging that as per the strategy of the CPI- Maoist, they “mislead the Dalits and spread thoughts of violence” in their minds.
In April last year, teams of Pune city police conducted searches at the residence of suspects in this case. On June 6, the police arrested five suspects including Rona Wilson from Delhi, activist Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai, professor from Nagpur University Shoma Sen, former Prime Minister Rural Development (PMRD) fellow Mahesh Raut and lawyer Surendra Gadling.
On August 28, teams raided several spots in the country including the house of Stan Swamy in Ranchi. After the raids cops had arrested five more suspects including Sudha Bharadwaj of Haryana, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira of Mumbai, P Varavara Rao of Telangana and Gautam Navlakha alleging they were part of a larger plan of banned CPI-Maoist to form a front called “Anti Fascist Front” to overthrow the democratic government.
Following a petition by Romila Thapar and others, the Supreme Court had put them under house arrest. While Navlakha managed to obtain court orders protecting him for arrest several times, the others were arrested.
Meanwhile, on November 15, 2018, the police filed a 5,160-page chargesheet against accused Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, lawyer Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and five absconding Maoist operatives Milind Teltumbde, Prakash alias Ritupan Goswami, Manglu, Deepu and Kishan alias Prashanto Bose.
In the chargesheet, police alleged that as per the objectives decided in the Eastern Regional Bureau (ERB) meeting of the banned CPI Maoist, accused persons organised the Elgaar Parishad event, under the banner of “Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Prerna Din Abhiyaan” and mobilised various Dalits and other organisations against the government through alleged Maoist front organisation KKM. Then, as stated in the chargesheet, they inciting speeches, statements, songs and other programmes held at Elgaar Parishad at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017. During the previous campaigns for the event, they allegedly provoked the masses and aggravated violence in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1, 2018.
On February 21, police filed a supplementary chargesheet against four arrested accused, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, P Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj and wanted accused Ganapathy.
Meanwhile, in February this year, police arrested Anand Teltumbde after his petition to quash his name from the FIR in the case was rejected by the SC. However, Teltumbde was released after a court in Pune held that the arrest was a violation of an SC order of January 14 which had granted him protection from arrest for four weeks. Teltumbde plea for anticipatory bail is now pending before the Bombay High Court.