Crime & Justice

Indian Supreme Court grants bail to activists held since 2018

New Delhi, Jul 28 (EFE).- The Supreme Court of India on Friday granted bail to two Indian activists detained since 2018 under an anti-terrorist law.

Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira have been accused of inciting violence during an event promoting the cause of lower and downtrodden castes, and of having ties with the maoist guerrillas.

“Considering the fact that almost 5 yrs have elapsed, we are satisfied they have made out case for bail. The allegations are serious, no doubt, but for that reason alone, bail cannot be denied to them,” said Judge Aniruddha Bose, according to specialized media LiveLaw.

The controversial case in which Gonsalves and Ferreira were detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), described as draconian by organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Between Dec. 31, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018, clashes occurred between radical Hindus and Dalits, members of the lowest strata of the caste system and considered “untouchable,” in the western town of Bhima Koregaon, in which one person died and dozens were injured.

The Dalits were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon, where untouchable soldiers under the command of the British defeated an army made up of members of the Maratha community, of a higher social status.

Gonsalves and Ferreira were accused of inciting violence and of having links to the CPI-M – the banned organization behind the Maoist-led guerrilla insurgency that remains active in India even after five decades of operations against them – along with other prominent activists who were also arrested.

An 84-year-old Jesuit priest, Stan Swamy, was arrested in October 2020 in connection to the same case. Sick with Parkinson’s, he died in July 2021 after contracting the coronavirus in prison.

Prominent octogenarian poet and activist Varavara Rao, activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, and academic Anand Teltumbde were also arrested and released separately on bail after years in detention, while the activist Gautam Navlakha remains in prison. EFE


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