Earlier on Saturday, the police brought Bharadwaj to Pune from Faridabad and produced her before the court in the evening. Ferreira and Gonsalves’ remand was ordered in the morning as they were brought to Pune the previous night.
District government pleader Ujjwala Pawar told special UAPA judge K D Vadane that the police needed custodial interrogation of the three activists to ascertain their involvement in alleged unlawful activities like recruitment and training of cadre, utilization of funds and activities through the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), a frontal organization for the banned CPI (Maoist) outfit.
The investigating officer, ACP Shivaji Pawar, had sought a 14-day remand for the three accused in his report submitted to the court.
Prosecutor Pawar submitted that the activists are CPI (Maoist) members and that there is prima facie evidence to show they recruited students from different academic institutions in Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi and Kashmir to train them in guerrilla warfare. “Their interrogation will help us find out who these recruited students are, and whether they have joined the ‘red army’,” Pawar submitted.
She cited one of the “incriminating” letters seized by the police, which highlights Bharadwaj’s role in handling Maoist funds for the students’ recruitment and training, and IAPL activities, including meetings involving underground Maoist leaders and communicating their instructions to operatives in the interiors (jungles). Bharadwaj also served in an advisory role for the Maoists, she submitted.
Ferreira and Gonsalves’ interrogation was essential to find out the responsibilities assigned to them and establish their individual roles. The money provided by CPI (Maoist) was used to organize Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31, 2017. The Police need to investigate if such money was used for other unlawful activities, she argued.
Defence lawyers Siddharth Patil and Rahul Deshmukh opposed the remand, arguing that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) provided for a maximum 30-day remand in custody, and considering that the Supreme Court had directed the house arrest of the activists for four weeks, the same has to be treated as a remand.
They questioned the legality of the duo’s arrest in Thane and Mumbai a few hours before the 28-day house arrest period was to end (at midnight on Friday), and argued that this falls under contempt of court. They argued that the police failed to file affidavits showing a change in status from house arrest to police custody, as per UAPA provisions.