NEW DELHI, MAY 28

He had surrendered before NIA on April 14 for his alleged involvement in Bhima-Koregaon riots of 2018

Civil rights campaigner Gautam Navlakha was taken to a Mumbai jail by the National Investigation Agency on Tuesday, a day before his interim bail plea was to come up in the Delhi High Court.

Mr. Navlakha, 67, surrendered before the NIA on April 14 in New Delhi for his alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon riots of 2018. He was sent to judicial custody in Tihar jail by a city court on May 23. His partner Sahba Husain said she received a call from Mr. Navlakha at 1.15 p.m. on Tuesday from a court in Mumbai where he was produced.

“I was completely shocked. We could speak barely for two minutes as the magistrate was kind enough to allow him the call,” she said.

Ms. Husain said Mr. Navlakha was taken on a train by an NIA team on Monday evening, exposing him to all kinds of infection, including COVID-19. “He told me his blood pressure had shot up to more than 200. Is this the way to treat an [undertrial] prisoner? What was the tearing hurry to shift him to a Mumbai jail when the NIA knew about the bail hearing in High Court,” she asked.

She said none of the family members or lawyers was informed by the NIA before he was moved ‘secretly’ to Mumbai. After concerns over his health were raised, he was shifted to solitary confinement in Tihar on May 24 from a cell with 3-4 others.

“An NIA official called up his lawyer in Delhi and asked for the number of the Mumbai lawyer. When the lawyer sought to know, she was informed that Gautam is in Mumbai….the city is the epicenter of COVID-19 right now and he is vulnerable,” Ms. Husain said.

On March 16, a Supreme Court Bench, after rejecting their anticipatory bail pleas, ordered Mr. Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, an engineer and IIM graduate who taught at IIT-Kharagpur, to surrender.

The case was transferred from the Pune police to the NIA in January. Both have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Mr. Teltumbde surrendered in Mumbai on April 14. Mr. Navlakha could not travel to Mumbai due to the ongoing lockdown and surrendered in Delhi.

In 2018, the Pune police arrested activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao, for their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon riots.

courtesy The Hindu

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