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No evidence against activist Ferreira in Elgar case: HC told

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: September 23, 2019  | 19:41 IST

Mumbai, Sep 23 (PTI) Activist Arun Ferreira, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case, on Monday told the Bombay High Court there was no evidence that he and others were creating a "war-like situation" against the government. Ferreira's lawyer, Sudeep Pasbola, told Justice Sarang Kotwal that nothing in the chargesheet filed by the Pune police or the digital evidence gathered by them, nor the statements of witnesses point to any incriminating evidence against his client. "There is no evidence to show that he (Ferreira) or the other accused in the case were trying to create a war-like situation in the country, waging war against the government or instigating anyone to do so," Pasbola submitted. Justice Kotwal is hearing the bail pleas filed by Ferreira and his two co-accused, Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonsalves. The three are among nine activists arrested in the case last year by the police over their alleged Maoist links and on a slew of other charges following violence at Koregaon Bhima, a village in Maharashtra's Pune district, between December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018. Pasbola argued that there was also no evidence to show that Ferreira was involved in organising the Elgar Parishad conclave, which allegedly led to the violence. The speeches made by some activists at the conclave, held on on December 31, 2017, "aggravated" the violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial the next day, according to the police chargesheet. The lawyer said the books and other articles seized from Ferreira's house cannot be described as incriminating. "None of the books seized from his house are banned by the government," he said. "All that these books show is that Ferreira has an academic interest in the Marxist ideology or is inspired by it." The lawyer contended that the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terror act, cannot be applied in this case. "How can they level charges of terrorism when there has been no terrorist attack?" Pasbola asked, arguing for bail to his client. The bench will hear arguments of the prosecution on October 1. According to the police, the Elgar Parishad conclave was funded by Maoists. The accused in the case have been charged with "waging war against the government", spreading the ideology of their banned organisation, creating caste conflict, disaffection, and hatred in the society. PTI SP RSY HMB

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