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Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Gautam Navlakha’s release delayed due to ‘safety concerns’ about premises selected for house arrest

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Gautam Navlakha NIA Elgaar Parishad Bhima Koregaon Case
Image: PTI

The release of activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case, was delayed yet again on Wednesday as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raised safety concerns about premises in Navi Mumbai where he had proposed to live during his house arrest.

Veteran actor Suhasini Mulay appeared before the special NIA judge Rajesh Katariya during the day and stood as surety for Navlakha which the court accepted.

“Since there is strong objection on the part of the prosecution (NIA) for keeping the accused in the premises on account of safety and security of the accused, it would not be proper to keep the accused in house arrest in the given premises,” the judge said in his order.

Further, as the special public prosecutor also submitted that the prosecution was going to file a report of the evaluation of the premises in the Supreme Court, it would not be appropriate to shift the accused there until further directions from the Apex court, the court added.

The 70-year-old activist, who claims to be suffering from multiple ailments, is in prison since April 2020.

On November 10, in response to his petition, the Supreme Court allowed Navlakha to be put under house arrest for a month and said the order should be implemented within 48 hours.

But the release was delayed as necessary formalities were not completed. Actor Suhasini Mulay appeared in the court on Wednesday and said she was standing as surety for Navlakha.

The 71-year-old actor, known for her work in films like “Bhuvan Shome” and “Hu Tu Tu”, appeared in the court as part of verification process.

Responding to a question by the judge, she said she was standing as surety for Navlakha. She knew him for more than 30 years as he is from Delhi where she had lived for some time, Mulay said.

She had never stood as surety for anyone before this, in fact she had never appeared in a court, she said.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon -Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

According to the Pune police, people linked to banned Naxalite groups had organized the program.

The case, in which over a dozen activists and academicians have been named as accused, was later handed over to the NIA.

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