Police asks family for whereabouts of Vernon Gonsalves even as he is lodged in Taloja jail

Gonsalves’s wife, advocate Susan Abraham pens letter alleging harassment by police

Vernon Gonsalves

Activist Vernon Gonsalves’ wife, advocate Susan Abraham, has written to the Mumbai Police Commissioner and Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court asking why the police officers from the crime branch visited their home, making inquiries of Gonsavalses’ whereabouts even while he is lodged in Taloja jail in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case, reported The Mumbai Mirror.

Complaining of harassment by the police, she wrote, “Police came and started asking my son, Sagar, where Vernon was. This is ridiculous. The whole world knows that he is in Taloja jail. The police also recorded Sagar’s statement.”

She said that two police officers came to her housing society even amid the coronavirus crisis. Expressing anger over the inquiry she said, “My son Sagar and I were shocked and disturbed at this uncalled for visit at a time when the risk of transmission of Covid-19 between police (frontline workers) and community members is very high.” She also added that the visit created a stressful atmosphere in the housing society where members were already fighting fears of the pandemic.

Abraham claimed that her son sat for an hour outside the society gate, where his statement was recorded regarding his father being in jail, a fact she said is already known to the police. The Mumbai Mirror reported her saying, “My son, at great risk to his health, sat from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM outside our housing society gate, recording his statement about his father being in jail, which is already known to the police.”

She added that the police could’ve also sought the details they needed, over the phone. “The police department is well aware that I am a practicing lawyer, and they have my contact details. It would have served the purpose of enquiry to simply call me on the phone.”

As per Mumbai Mirror, Sagar’s statement gave details about his and his parent’s profssion. He also said that his father was already acquitted in a 2007 case by the court. Later, he was arrested in 2018 in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, and is currently lodged in Taloja jail.

In 2018, Gonsalves was among the eight activists including Arun Ferriera, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Mahesh Raut, Sudha Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen who were arrested by the police for holding Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.

On January 1, 2018, during the Elgar Parishad, some elements against the gathering which was of historical importance to Dalits, incited violence and the clash claimed the life of one person and left several others injured. After a probe in the matter was launched, the Maharashtra police arrested activists, branding them as ‘urban naxals’ alleging them to be part of a plot assassinate PM Modi in a ‘Rajiv Gandhi type’ attack.

In January this year, the probe was passed on to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the order for which was given by the BJP government at the Centre. Activists and human rights organizations raised serious concerns about the course of the investigation post this transfer.


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