Other States

Remarks against PM Modi not sedition, says Gadling

Surendra Gadling  

Pune

Stating that there was nothing seditious about the speeches made by participants at the Elgar Parishad of December 2017, human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling on Friday accused the prosecution of conducting a media trial in the case.

Advocate Gadling, conducting his own defence, was replying to public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar’s arguments that sought to deny bail to him and the other activists arrested in the case.

The session, which commenced late afternoon, ran well into the evening as Mr. Gadling read out speeches made by participants like Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and Dalit activist-publisher Sudhir Dhawale (who has been arrested by the Pune police in connection with the case) at the Elgar Parishad held at Pune’s Shaniwarwada Fort.

Driving home his argument that the participants had made purely political speeches, Mr. Gadling asserted that it was ludicrous to construe remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as sedition.

“The speeches were in fact exhorting Mr. Modi to join them and see just how bad the social conditions in Maharashtra really were…but instead, the police and the government machinery is falsely branding us as ‘Maoists’ and straining to prove our links with the CPI (Maoist),” he said.

The advocate was arrested by the Pune police on June 6 last year, along with Mr. Dhawale, Shoma Sen and activists Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson, for their alleged links with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their roles in the Elgar Parishad and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes. The other bail applicants include Mr. Dhawale, Mr. Raut, Mr. Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and poet-activist P. Vara Vara Rao.

Ms. Pawar said the prosecution has submitted to the special court all the investigation papers and seized documents, including electronic evidence and phone records, to prove that a prima facie case existed against all the accused.

She submitted that the accused were actively conspiring against the State and were working at the behest of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) by recruiting sympathizers, raising funds and influencing students via the CPI (Maoist)’s frontal outfits such as the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) and the Bastar Solidarity Network.

She asserted that Mr. Gadling and activist Sudha Bharadwaj are members of the IAPL and also said that retired Supreme Court Justice P. B. Sawant, said to be one of the main organizers of the ‘Elgar Parishad’, was allegedly ‘used’ by ‘Maoist fronts’ like the Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyan to organize the event.

She submitted that Mr. Gadling provided ‘tactical information’ to the Maoists to help them plan ambushes on security convoys in Gadchiroli and Bastar. She also claimed the letters exchanged between the accused and top Maoist leaders proved that they members of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers were working at the behest of the CPI (Maoist).

Terming the prosecution’s arguments as ‘ridiculous’, defence counsel Rahul Deshmukh said Ms. Pawar’s core case rested upon 13 letters allegedly exchanged between the arrested activists and the Maoists which were of highly dubious authenticity.

“The most astonishing aspect in this case is that the investigating officer had submitted these letters, and other important evidence, to the court superintendent without knowledge of the court,” said Mr. Deshmukh, remarking that the copies of electronic evidence allegedly seized by the Pune police had not been given to the defence till now.

Friday was the concluding day of the bail hearings. The court’s order on the bail pleas is likely to be heard on Monday next week.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 7:45:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/remarks-against-pm-modi-not-sedition-says-gadling/article27098232.ece

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