The Supreme Court will on Friday rule on the fate of five activists arrested by Maharashtra police recently for their alleged Maoist links, a charge they say has been fabricated to quell dissent in the country. They allege that the arrests were “random” and designed to check dissent.
A three-judge bench led by outgoing CJI Dipak Misra is dealing with the case. They have among other things demanded an independent probe into the charge. They have been slapped cases under the dreaded UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) with little possibility of bail.
In its first response to a plea by professor Romila Thapar, an eminent historian, and the likes of Prabhat Patnaik, the top court had ordered that they be placed under house arrest.
The five — Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha — were picked up in August by police in connection with a probe into the recent caste violence in Bhima Koregaon.
Police claim that they have incriminating material to show that they were part of a Maoist plot to eliminate several sovereign heads, a charge the activists deny. They have dubbed the material against them as fabricated.
They have called for a probe and their release on bail pending trial.