Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Naxal suspects skip hearings, court wants them shifted to nearby jail

Sukanya Shetty
Posted: Sep 09, 2009 at 0507 hrs IST

Mumbai After a series of warrants issued by the Gondia sessions court against suspected Naxalites Vernon Gonsalves and Shreedhar Shrinivasan — they have not been produced in court for several hearings—a sessions court has directed the state to shift them to Gondia jail, from Taloja jail in Thane district.
The Gondia police have filed chargesheets against them in three cases so far. There are around nine cases pending against them in Vidarbha alone.

The duo have been charged for waging war and indoctrinating men to wage war against the country. They along with two other accused— Arun Ferreira and Murali Sattya Reddy— were also charged for secession and collecting money for hatching a criminal conspiracy along with continuing with activities of organised crime syndicate. Maximum punishment for waging war is death penalty.

Gonsalves and Shrinivasan, who are presently at Taloja jail in Thane district, will soon be shifted to Gondia jail to expedite the case pending there.

“It will help us expedite the case. As the cases are heard in routine courts, there has hardly been any development. Also, Ferreira and Reddy, who were charged in similar such cases in Gondia, have been acquitted. So we are hopeful now,” said Gonsalves’ wife Advocate Susan Gonsalves who filed a petition before the Bombay High Court.

The police had acquired warrants under Section 267 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) from different courts after arresting Gonsalves and Shrinivasan in 2007.

Susan has challenged this in the court alleging that it violates their fundamental rights and that such custody could be sought only by a magistrate for producing an accused for a case registered in his jurisdiction.

However, the Bombay High Court has reserved the order on this petition.

On May 8, 2007, the Nagpur police had arrested Ferreira and Reddy.

According to the police, Ferreira was a Maoist communications and propaganda strategist, and Murali was the Maoist ‘divisional secretary’ from the Deekshabhoomi area in Nagpur.

The police also claimed that Ferreira had a seven-year long history of mobilising support and organising Maoist activities in Vidarbha.

Three months later on August 19, the police had arrested Shreedhar Shrinivasan, allegedly the outfit’s Maharashtra state secretary and a member of the central politburo, and Vernon Gonzalves, a state committee member, from the outskirts of Mumbai.

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