Vaibhav Ganjapure| TNN | 

Ram Jethmalani Ram Jethmalani
NAGPUR: Top criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani along with senior counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan would be defending Vijay Tirki and Prashant Rahi, both accomplices of naxal sympathizer, Prof Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba, at Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. Both the eminent lawyers would arrive from Delhi on August 18, fixed as next date of hearing.

Both accused along with mentor Saibaba, Mahesh Tirki, Hem Mishra, and Pandu Narote had challenged Gadchiroli Sessions Court verdict that convicted them on March 7. While Vijay was awarded ten years of rigorous imprisonment, considering his limited role and his first attempt, others were sentenced for life.

The court would hear two separate criminal appeals filed by Saibaba and the five convicts together. On April 5, the division bench comprising justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Vinay Deshpande admitted both appeals for final hearing.

At the last hearing, Prashant Sathianathan was appointed as special public prosecutor (SPP) by the government to plead the case in high court as he successfully defended prosecution in the Gadchiroli court.

He had filed a reply on the prosecution’s behalf strongly opposing bail to Vijay contending that he was found with Rahi at Deori T- point with incriminating material. He was also actively involved in facilitating Rahi’s visit to Abujmad for meeting with senior naxal leaders who were hiding there.

Asserting that Vijay was convicted in a serious crime against the nation, Sathianathan said there is sufficient evidence to show his involvement. “If released on bail, he will indulge in similar activities of banned organization which may lead to several deaths and loss to the government property. He is also likely to flee from justice and wouldn’t be available for further proceedings,” he argued.

The SPP further pointed out that Vijay conspired with the underground member Ramdar of the banned organization CPI (Maoist) and its frontal origination RDF. As per the latter’s diktats, he tried to take the Rahi to Abujmad forests. It was Saibaba who arranged meetings of Mishra and Rahi with the underground members of banned Maoists organizations.

Saibaba, dubbed ‘Maoists think tank’, handed over the microchip SD memory card of 16GB of Sandisc company containing vital Maoist communications and other documents to Mishra and Rahi with intention to further the activities of naxal organization CPI (Maoist) and RDF.

All six accused are convicted under Sections 13, 18, 20, 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) along with Section 120B of IPC for criminal conspiracy, for aiding and abetting naxal activities and waging war against nation.

Gadchiroli principal district and session judge Suryakant Shinde, while pronouncing the judgement, had also named dreaded naxal Narmada Akka and Ramdar, as other accused in the crime and directed the Gadchiroli police to trace them. The court examined 23 witnesses that included ‘panch’ witness and one approver.