MUMBAI: Four years and eight months after being lodged in jail for alleged links with Naxalites, Arun Ferreira (40) was granted bail by the District and Sessions court of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra on Wednesday.
Mr Ferreira was arrested along with a naxalite leader Arun Satya Reddy alias Murali in Nagpur in 2007, after eight cases under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act were lodged against him. By September 23, 2011, Ferreira was acquitted in over 10 cases, but whenever he was acquitted and released, the state police arrested him again on fresh set of charges, first in December 2009 and again in September last year.
The alleged Naxal top cadre was released after Ferreira’s family paid the personal bond of 50,000 and 50,000 worth solvency certificate to secure his release. After reaching his home in Bandra, Mumbai he kept away from media. Close friends requested that he wished to be spend time with his family for some time.
Ferreira’s lawyer, Surendra Gadling maintained all the charges levelled against him as bogus. Since abduction was done, his lawyers filed a case demanding a compensation for it. The way the cases were registered, it was clear what kind of bogus cases they were, his lawyer stated. For four-and-half years they never arrested Ferreira and the cases have been registered on dates before he was arrested. But as he gets free, he was arrested within five minutes, and this shows the modus operandi of the state and the police, his lawyers stated.
Mr Ferreira’s release came a day after the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) representing Mr Ferreira lawyers filed a writ petition before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court citing his arrests as abduction by the police and vindictive prosecution by the jail authorities. The court served notices to the state home secretary, the jail authorities and seven other respondents to respond, within 20 days, to the petition filed on his behalf seeking a compensation of Rs 25 lakhs and apology for harassing him by implicating him in false cases.
The petition sought compensation for infringement on fundamental rights of liberty and freedom of movement guaranteed under the constitution and a speedy trial. Ferreira, in his petition, also challenged the vexatious and mala fide prosecution, including delayed proceedings for showing arrests and his abduction from outside the jail premises by implicating him in different cases. The petition demands that all the cases pending and /or convictions in the various courts be quashed and a judicial inquiry be set up to probe his abduction from prison and re-arrest after lease from the court.
During his jail term Arun Ferreira went for a 27 day long hunger strike in protest against the “police harassment” at the jail premises, along with other jail inmates. He also completed his master’s thesis on “Political prisoners in India” in 2010
Susan Abraham’s husband Vernon Gonsalves has also been in jail for over three years with Mr Ferreira, “I asked the police for an arrest warrant but they threatened me and without any reason took him away.” She added that student leaders, journalists, social activist are being arrested under one pretext or the other whenever the state wants. “It is easy to label them as Maoist or Naxals and once arrested and put into prison, the stigmatization and persecution of the alleged political rebel continues and jails become centres of torture,” she said.(Eom)