Mumbai, May 2 Opposing the interim protection from arrest granted to activist Gautam Navlakha by the Bombay High Court, the Maharashtra government on Thursday invoked the Naxal attack in Gadchiroli, saying he is accused of being a member of “such a group”.

A division bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre was hearing a petition filed by Navlakha seeking to quash the case registered against him by the Pune police in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

The police have accused Navlakha and four other civil liberties activists of having connections with Naxals.

The court had, in October 2018, granted Navlakha an interim protection from arrest.

Demanding that this protection be revoked, additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai referred to the IED blast carried out by Naxals in Gadchiroli district on Wednesday.

“Naxals have carried out an attack in Gadchiroli in which 15 policemen lost their lives…applicant is accused of being a member of such a group,” she said.

Because of the interim protection, the police could not continue with the probe and they needed to question Navlakha, the prosecutor said.

Navlakha’s lawyer Yug Chaudhry opposed the demand and asked if the police were claiming that his client was behind Wednesday’s improvised explosive device (IED) blast.

The court remarked that the interim protection granted to Navlakha should not come in the way of the investigation.

“The interim protection is from October 2018. One more month’s protection will not hinder the probe,” Justice More said, adjourning the hearing to June 12.

Besides Navlakha, the Pune police has accused Telugu poet Varavara Rao and activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj of having links with Maoists.

The case was registered following the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune, which, the police alleged, was backed by Maoists, and which allegedly led to violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial on January 1, 2018.

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