HC grants bail to naxal ‘sympathiser’ Sheetal Sathe
The Bombay High Court today granted bail on humanitarian grounds to alleged naxal sympathiser Sheetal Sathe, who is due to deliver her baby next month. Sathe, an activist of radical musical group Kabir Kala Manch, had approached the High Court after a sessions court rejected her bail application earlier this month. Justice A M Thipsay today granted her bail on a personal bond of Rs 30,000 as the prosecution also did not opposed her application.
After being underground for over two years, Sathe and her husband Sachin Mali, had courted arrest outside Mantralaya. They were arrested by ATS on April 2. Sathe and Mali were declared absconding accused in a case registered in 2011 against 15 people for their alleged role in supporting and funding naxal activities in the state. The duo are facing charges under several sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for their alleged involvement with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). While seven persons were arrested in 2010, Sathe, Mali and six others were absconding. Sathe sought the relief on the humanitarian grounds and on parity as the seven arrested accused in the case were released on bail.
‘Naxalite’ Vernon released from Central Jail
NAGPUR: It was difficult to imagine the tall, grey-haired, bespectacled man emerging from Nagpur Central Jail on Wednesday as a dreaded Naxalite or a member of a banned organization. Hugging his wife with glee, Vernon Gonsalves appeared no different than any man waiting for six years to be close to his family again. It was after much speculation that Gonsalves was released at 6.30pm from Nagpur Central Jail.
Apart from wife Susan Abraham and another close relative, his counsel Surendra Gadling too was waiting outside the jail gate with some social workers. The waiting well-wishers were anxious whether the activist would be rearrested and implicated in a fresh case, which has been the routine practice of security agencies against people suspected to be working for Naxalite outfits or the movement. Gonsalves had been convicted on Tuesday under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act and Arms Act in 2007 by district and additional sessions Judge PM Dunedar. He had already undergone incarceration for the period he was sentenced, so he was released immediately.
He had been sent to jail after being arrested with Shridhar Shrinivasan in August 2007. A visibly relieved Susan said her husband spent 10 extra months in jail. “He was no terrorist anyway,” said Susan. An activist championing workers rights herself, Susan was among the regular faces who turned up from Mumbai at the Suyog Building on every court hearing for Gonsalves. After a long fight for justice, she was finally able to take her husband back to Mumbai.
A former professor of business organization at a prominent Mumbai college, Gonsalves was labelled an ex-central committee member and former secretary of Maharashtra State Rajya Committee of the Naxalites by the security agencies and charged in around 20 cases. Gonsalves has been acquitted in 17 cases as prosecution could not furnish evidence. He was discharged in one case while trial is underway in one of the cases, Gonsalves was convicted in the case whose verdict was delivered in Nagpur.
“It is for the society to decide what I am. But, I am certainly not a terrorist,” said Gonsalves, overwhelmed with joy. He also said that he intends to read the 251-page judgment before commenting on the long drawn criminal justice system. “It’s a great feeling of relief. It was a long, tedious trial that brought this freedom. I am still getting used to this freedom; I need time to collect my thoughts,” he said before stepping into the car to leave with Gadling.
The lawyer also said that he needs time to read the judgment before deciding whether to appeal against the conviction. Gadling said his client has been acquitted under most sections of UAPA, challenging the claim that he was a Naxalite. “Since most charges were disproved against Gonsalves, it is unfair to call him antinational. Moreover, the prosecution also failed to prove that he was waging or abetting war against the nation or government,” he said. Gonsalves, who wants to continue social work, had been a gold medallist in MCom. “When one steps out of jail, it is a different feeling all together,” he said
Eight Maoist guerrillas killed in encounter with security forces
Eight Maoist guerrillas were shot dead by the security forces on Thursday in an encounter in the forests of Latehar district of Jharkhand. Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar said five Maoist cadre were killed in the gun battle when they opened fire on one group of security personnel while other three died in a gunfight against another group of security men in Kumandih forest of the district. He said the bodies were not yet recovered as the encounter was still on. The anti-Maoist operation was launched on Monday by the personnel of CRPF, Jharkhand Jaguar and the district police. This was the third encounter in the last three days, the police said.
Maoists destroy under construction bridge in Jharkhand
Maoists destroyed yesterday an under construction bridge in Jharkhand’s Ghatiyari area with the aim to stall development in the state and cause inconvenience to the residents . “They tied up the people here and told them to sit still and not do anything, after that they went and set fire to the tractor and they also set fire to a motorcycle there.
While leaving they placed a explosive device near the shed due to which the shed collapsed,” said Superintendent of police (SP), Jamtara, Nagendar Choudhary. According to the residents, 20 armed men, dressed in uniform came at midnight and tied up all the workers and asked them to sit quietly. The perpetrators later set ablaze earthmovers and tractor in the area. The government has invested a total sum of rupees 7 crores seven lakhs on the bridge being built over Barakar river.