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Bhima Koregaon: When narrative takes a U-turn, ‘urban faces of Maoism’ exposed

A senior official directly involved in the investigation said on the condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media that those arrested on Monday were involved in financing December 31, Elgar Parishad in Pune to deliberately create trouble.

pune Updated: Jun 07, 2018 15:19 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Bhima Koregaon
A group of Dalits take part in a protest rally during the Maharashtra bandh called over the Bhima Koregaon violence, in Karad, Maharashtra. (HT FILE PHOTO )

The latest action by Pune police arresting five persons with alleged “maoist links” in connection with Koregaon Bhima violence is an entirely opposite narrative of caste riots in which role of rightwing Hindutva leaders were also being probed.

A senior official directly involved in the investigation said on the condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media that those arrested on Monday were involved in financing December 31, Elgar Parishad in Pune to deliberately create trouble.

“The arrested people are in touch with naxals who are underground. They have also financed Elgar Parishad to orchestrate violence on January 1,” said the officer.

A large number of Dalits had gathered at Bhima Koregaon on new year’s day to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle they won while fighting alongside the British against the Peshwas, the upper caste rulers on new year. A 28-year-old man was killed in the clashes while damages incurred during the violence were estimated at ₹13 crores.

Bhima Koregaon: A twist, many arrests
A team of Pune police arrested a member of the Republican Panther group Sudhir Dhawale, prominent lawyer Surendra Gadling, activists Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut, and Nagpur University retired professor Soma Sen, all with alleged Maoist links, for inciting riots.
The story so far
  • A total of 58 cases have been registered by the Pune police inconnection with the riots that erupted on New Year’s day this year and 162 accused have been arrested.
  • From the right-wing Hindutva camp, Pune rural police have arrested Milind Ekbote and a case has been filed against Sambhaji Bhide to whom the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has given a clean chit.
  • The riots that broke out on January 1, 2018 left one person dead and over a hundred injured.
  • According to official figures, riots caused a financial loss of ₹13 crore, out of which ₹9.40 crore was in Bhima-Koregaon riots itself while rest were during subsequent protests in Pune, Mumbai and other cities.
  • Of these,Dalit community members suffered losses of around ₹1 crore and Muslims suffered losses to the tune of ₹85lakh, which the government will compensate.
  • A prominent Dalit activist who started the Marathi magazine Vidrohi.
  • He along with Harshali Potdar, an activist, founded the Republican Panther to raise issues of atrocities against Dalits.
  • Dhawale was arrested in January 2011 for alleged Maoist activities but was acquitted later by Gondia Sessions court.
  • Dhawale was arrested on Wednesday from his Govandi residence.
  • As a prominent advocate from Nagpur, Gadling has handled several cases related to Maoist sympathisers.
  • He is the general secretary of Indian association of people’s lawyers and has provided legal aid to those arrested on charges of having Maoist links, including GN Saibabaand Dhawale.
  • He was picked up by the Pune police from his Nagpur residence.
  • Sen is retired professor of English at the Nagpur University.
  • This Nagpurbased activist is alleged to have links with Maoists.
  • She was present during December 31, Elgar Parishad.
  • She was arrested from her residence. Soma’s husband Tushar Kranti Bhattacharya was arrested from Nagpur station for his alleged Maoist connection in 2010.
  • A former beneficiary of Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme, Raut was detained in 2013 by the Gadchiroli police following the arrest of two Maoists. The police later released Raut, who shifted his base from Gadchiroli to Nagpur.
  • He was arrested from Nagpur on Wednesday.
  • A native of Kerala, Wilson is accused of having close links with Maoists. He is also a public relations secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP).
  • Following GN Saibaba’s arrest, Wilson replaced him in campaigns. Delhi University Professor G N Saibaba has been given life sentence by a court for his links with Maoists.
  • Police arrested him on Wednesday from Delhi.

Joint commissioner of police Ravindra Kadam said that there was“enough and direct evidence” against the people arrested on Wednesday. “The documents we have, clearly points out that these people are the face of urban Maoism,” Kadam added.

Around five teams of Pune Police arrested Sudhir Dhawale, a member of the organisation Republican Panther; Surendra Gadling, a prominent lawyer; Rona Jacob Wilson, an activist; Mahesh Raut, a beneficiary of Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme and Soma Sen, a retired English professor from Nagpur University from different locations. While Dhawale was arrested from his house in Mumbai, Dagling, Raut and Sen were picked up from Nagpur and Wilson was arrested from his Delhi residence.

The earlier first information report (FIR) against seven persons at Vishrambaug police had accused them, including members of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a left leaning organization, for inciting people during Elgar Parishad which lead to violence. The complaint against the members of the Kabir Kala Manch was lodged by Tushar Damgude.

The latest action has come at a time when Pune rural police have accused rightwing Milind Ekbote , Hindutva leader and member of Samastha Hindutva Aghadi for “orchestrating violence” at Bhima Koregaon. Ekbote was arrested after the FIR was filed at Shikrapur police station, which comes under rural police. The FIR against Ekbote was based on the complaint from Anita Savale, a Dalit activist. In the same FIR, rural police also booked Sambhaji Bhide who was later given a clean chit by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Jignesh Mevani, Gujrat MLA who is also booked by Pune police for inciting people called the latest arrest as “Attack on Ambedkarite movement”

“Attack on Ambedkarite movement : Maharashtra police has arrested Ambedkarite activist & editor Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai, advocate Surendra Gadling in Nagpur and Rona Wilson in Delhi. All 3 booked under draconian Unlawful activities and prevention Act (UAPA) while Bhima Koregaon culprit Manohar Bhide roams scot-free,” Mevani Tweeted.

First Published: Jun 07, 2018 15:12 IST