Dalit activists’ homes, offices raided in Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur
The action came against the backdrop of the first information report (FIR) filed against Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) artistes in Pune for delivering provocative speeches during the Elgar Parishad held at the historic Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon war.pune Updated: Apr 18, 2018 14:53 IST
The Pune police on Tuesday carried out multi-city raids against prominent activists and lawyers in connection with their alleged links to the violence which occurred at Bhima Koregaon on January 1. The raids were conducted on the homes and offices of various activists affiliated to the Kabir Kala Manch, Republican Panther, and prominent advocates. The raids which started at around 5 am were carried out by several teams of the Pune police in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur.
The action came against the backdrop of the first information report (FIR) filed against Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) artistes in Pune for delivering provocative speeches during the Elgar Parishad held at the historic Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon war. The FIR was lodged by a 37-year-old local builder Tushar Ramesh Damgud, a resident of Katraj, who submitted a recording of the proceedings of the Parishad before the police and sought action against the Elgar Parishad organisers. The complaint stated that the KKM members had performed songs and staged a play during the Parishad, which had spread hatred and disharmony among the citizens of the country.
Police officials said that they have seized some pamphlets and documents from their residences.
Kabir Kala Manch, Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and other Dalit organisations have termed the police action as an authoritarian assault on the right to privacy and freedom aimed at spreading fear among the Dalit community and artistes. The organisations further alleged that the police move was in line with the fascist rule being imposed in the state by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.Jogendra Kawade, president, Republican Party of India (K), said that it was an attempt to put down all dissent. “It is the government’s agenda to suppress dissent and they are only implementing the same,” said Kawade.
Prakash Ambedkar, president, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, condemned the raids and said, “Instead of arresting Sambhaji Bhide, they are harassing innocent people.”
According to the police, the residence of artistes Jyoti Jagtap (Yerawada); Ramesh Gaichor (Yerawada); Sagar Gorkhe (Wakad) and Deepak Dengale (Pimple Saudagar) were searched and the residence of prominent advocate Ramesh Gadling in Nagpur was also raided by the police team. Gadling has appeared for Maoist leaders, including GN Saibaba and has been on the police radar since a long time.
Apart from the Pune activists and Nagpur lawyer, a police team carried out searches at the residences of Left activists Sudhir Dhawale and Harshali Potdar.
Pune police commissioner Rashmi Shukla, said, “Search operations took place at six places in furtherance of investigation in CR No 4/18 registered at the Vishrambaug police station against KKM activists for delivering provocative speeches and songs during the Elgaar Parishad at Shaniwarwada on December 31.”
Bhima Koregaon witnessed large-scale violence on January 1. The violence left one dead and werefollowed by a Maharashtra shutdown call issued by the Bahujan Bharip Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar and other parties on January 3.The violence resulted after an altercation between right wing groups and Dalitsnear the memorial of the 1818 battle between British and Peshwa forces in Bhima Koregaon, around 40 kilometres from Pune.
The Vishrambaug police later booked organisers of Elgar Parishad including six members of Kabir Kala Manch Sudhir Dhavale, Harshali Potdar, Ramesh Gaychor, Deepak Dengle, Jyoti Jagtap and Sagar Gorkhe on charges of making "provocative" and "inflammatory" statements aimed at inciting communal differences in the society.
The organisers have been subsequently booked under the Indian Penal Code Section 153(A) for creating hatred, Section 505 for using literature to incite people to act against other communities, Section 117 for abetting commission of offence, and Section 34 for working in a group.
The Pune police had also booked newly-elected Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s student leader Umar Khalid for allegedly making provocative statements during their speeches at the Parishad.