Sympathy for Maoist philosophy with a likelihood to indulge in various violent activities is not sufficient ground to conclude that the accused are presently active members of the terrorist organisation, the Bombay High Court held while granting bail to four youths held from Pune allegedly due to their Naxal links.
Justice Abhay Thipsay passed the order on January 31 stating that “suspects could be sympathisers of Maoist philosophy but none can be said to be active members of banned CPI (Maoist)”.
The suspects include Siddhartha Bhosale of Kondhwa, an economics student at Fergusson College, Deepak Dhengale, a poet-singer of Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) and two girls, Mayuri alias Nandini Bhagat of Nagpur and Anuradha Sonule of Chandrapur.
The order stated, “The basic apprehension of the state (ATS) is that in future they (the suspects) were likely to indulge in various violent activities and offences... Certainly such apprehension cannot be said to be without basis. It ought to be treated genuine. However... such possibility by itself would not be sufficient to conclude that the applicants are presently active members of the terrorist organisation.”
The order stated that in view of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed to citizens, the activities which can be justified with reference to those freedoms and those that go beyond it and attract criminality need to be clearly demarcated. “It does not appear prima facie that any of the applicants have crossed the demarcating line,” said the order.
The Maharashtra ATS had arrested the four in April-May 2011 along with three others from Pune and Thane. The three others were Angela Sontakke, alleged to be the secretary of Golden Corridor Committee of CPI (Maoist). Her husband Milind Teltumbde is alleged to a top state CPI (Maoist) operative. Six youths associated with KKM were also booked in the case but are absconding.
The ATS had booked all others under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for spreading Naxal ideology of armed struggle against the government. It also claimed to have seized Maoist literature from them.
The same court had earlier granted to bail to suspects Jyoti Chorge and Sushma Ramteke, who were arrested from Pune, in this case. Advocates Mihir Desai, Vijay Hiremath, Maharukh Adenwala, Sharmila Kaushik, Susan Abraham represented the suspects.
According to the ATS, besides strengthening cadres in jungles, the Maoists also want to spread their influence in urban areas. It said the Golden Corridor Committee of CPI (Maoist) aimed to indoctrinate and recruit the youth and labourers from urban belts in Pune, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Thane and Nashik through cultural groups and functions like street plays in colleges and slum areas.
Angela is alleged to have indoctrinated the suspects, most of whom are KKM members, who further allegedly operated in Pune to spread the Maoist ideology.
As per Dhengale’s statement, CPI (Maoist) organised a 15-day training camp at his relatives place in Khed taluka of Pune in mid-2010. Angela and Milind had explained Maoist ideology and shown videos named “Blazing trial” displaying the attacks on police and paramilitary forces in the camp.
Dhengale, who worked at the vehicle department of Pune Municipal Corporation, stated that he was not allowed to attend all the programmes at the camp.
The ATS also said the Maoists allegedly aimed to set up arms base in cities and encourage the urban youth to join jungle warfare. As per ATS, two KKM members Prashant Kamble and Santosh Shelar from Kasewadi slums in Pune had allegedly jointed the Naxal movement in jungles.