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Controversy over arrest of alleged naxals

Posted by Indian Vanguard on August 23, 2007

The arrest of two men, alleged to have Naxal links, by the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad has sparked off a controversy.

ATS officials claim that they have evidence to show that the two men, Sridhar Vishnu and Vernon Gonsalves, were planning to carry out blasts in the city.

Gonsalves is a former economics professor at Ruparel and KC Colleges in Mumbai.

In the 1980s, he spent 10 years working with labour unions in Chandrapur in the Vidharbha region. For the last one year, Gonsalves has been in Mumbai recovering from a leg surgery.

His family claims that the allegations are false and that he was never a member of the Naxal movement.

But what could have gone against him, they say, is the fact that for nine years, from 1984 to 1993, he worked for tribals in the Naxal-affected Chandrapur district.

The police, however, say that Gonsalves is the Secretary of the Maharsahtra unit of the People’s War Group, a banned outfit.

Both the men, the police allege, were planning to carry out blasts in the city and have been charged under the Arms Act and the Explosives Act.

”From both the accused, firearms were recovered with live bullets, one hand grenade, detonators and high explosive gelatin,” said Dr PS Pasricha, DGP, Maharashtra.

But both Vishnu and Gonsalves have challenged these claims. They insist that the arms were planted at Vishnu’s residence in Govandi, while the police were searching his home.

”The police have falsely fabricated that he was arrested from somewhere else. Would somebody be carrying all that they have said in person? It just does not make sense. Its obvious it was set up,” said Mahrukh Adenwala, Defence Advocate.

In May this year, the arrest by the Nagpur police of social worker Arun Ferreira had sparked off a similar controversy.

Based on a pen drive and documents seized, the police alleged that Ferreira was a serious threat to Mumbai.

And these latest arrests will revive the debate over whether these are false or genuine arrests.


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