A Pune court on Monday rejected revolutionary poet and Bhima Koregaon accused Varavara Rao's application seeking a temporary bail for 6 days between April 29 and May 4 to attend the post-death rituals of his sister-in-law. Pune police had last year on August 28 arrested Rao along with 4 other activists Sudha Bhardwaj Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves for their alleged Maoist link to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Bhima Koregaon case: Pune court rejects application of accused Varavara Rao seeking temporary bail to attend post death rituals of his sister-in-law. He had sought temporary bail for the period of 29 April to 4 May," the news agency ANI reported.
Bhima Koregaon case: Pune court rejects application of accused Varavara Rao seeking temporary bail to attend post death rituals of his sister-in-law. He had sought temporary bail for the period of 29 April to 4 May. (file pic) pic.twitter.com/ZeFcRU9Azl— ANI (@ANI) April 29, 2019
On March 26, Rao's wife P Hemlata, in an open letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI), appealed him to intervene in the case and take steps for his release. Hemalata claimed that Rao has been made an accused, along with others, in the Koregaon Bhima violence case which was later extended to criminal conspiracy and then to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Hemalata's open letter, which alleges that Rao has been implicated in the case just to silence his voice, has been endorsed by about 100 intellectuals and others in Hyderabad and Telangana.
Bhima Koregaon case refers to the violence that broke out following an annual celebratory gathering at Maharashtra's Bhima Koregaon village to mark the 200th anniversary of a British-era war. The skirmish claimed one life and left several others injured on January 1, 2018. It is believed to be the assassination plot of PM Modi on the lines of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. The former prime minister was assassinated by LTTE bomber Dhanu during one of his election rallies in the year 1991.
In the 1818 Koregaon Bhima battle, forces of the Peshwa, the ruler of Pune, were defeated by the British East India Company. While the people from backward classes see the victory as an assertion of their identity as the British forces included Mahar (a formerly untouchable caste) soldiers, Hindu right-wing organisations oppose the celebration.
Every year, the anniversary of the battle is marked by thousands of backward class people assembling in Pune and marching to Koregaon-Bhima to a war memorial.