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Monday Musings: Bori & Gorhe, 2017: Why our heads hang in shame

The inability of the police-prosecution to present a water-tight case on Bori vandalism is laughable and the political interference in the Narvekar-Gorhe case, condemnable.

pune Updated: Oct 29, 2017 21:19 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hinduatan Times, Pune
Monday Musings,Bori & Gorhe,2017
Internationally acclaimed Bori was vandalised by Maratha offshoot on January 5, 2004. The attack was allegedly a reaction to the publication of the controversial book from American author James Laine - Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Two developments in Pune last week will undoubtedly force all sane and civilised people of Pune, and the rest of the country, to hang their heads in shame.

One was the acquittal of all the accused members of Sambhaji Brigade by a Pune court in the June 2004 case relating to the vandalism at the internationally-acclaimed Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI). The other was a Pune court’s decision to allow withdrawal of the criminal case against Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s personal assistant Milind Narvekar.

Under this December 2010 case, Gorhe and Narvekar were accused of instigating violence by the Pune Police after their telephonic conversation was tapped and Narvekar was heard giving instructions to Gorhe to instigate violence during a Pune bandh.

On October 27, sessions judge SJ Gharat acquitted all the 68 members of the Maratha organisation Sambhaji Brigade after 13 years of trial. They were acquitted because the prosecution failed to establish the role of the Brigade in the attack on Bori on January 5, 2004.

Located on Law College Road, Bori was vandalized because scholars from that institute had assisted American author James Laine during the research for his book, Shivaji: A Hindu King in Islamic India. The Marathas were outraged by references to Shivaji’s parentage in that book and took out their fury on Bori by going on a rampage and destroying the furniture, computers, reference index cards and other things at the institute.

The attack happened in broad daylight and it is indeed abysmally shameful that the prosecution could not establish its case. One obvious reason could be the tardy investigations by Pune Police.

Neelam Gorhe, leader,Shiv Sena ( HT FILE PHOTO )

The same, however, cannot be said about the other case relating to Narvekar-Gorhe. In this particular case, the Pune police had shown exemplary skills by taking Gorhe and Narvekar to task over their alleged complicity in a bandh called by BJP-Sena. The bandh was to protest the removal of Dadoi Konddeo’s statue from the historic Lal Mahal under pressure from the Sambhaji Brigade.

According to the FIR filed by Bund Garden police, Gorhe was instructed by Narvekar to ensure that at least 200-300 activists took to the streets on the morning of 28 December, 2010 to create commotion by setting ablaze some ST buses at prominent depots in Pune. Gorhe was allegedly instructed to ensure that a similar disruption was organised on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway to disrupt traffic coming towards Pune. She was to ensure that TV crews were informed in good time so that they could record and air the visuals for maximum impact on the public. According to the police, at least 30 buses were damaged and one was set ablaze by protestors.

The Pune police wanted to take the case forward and had been repeatedly trying to secure the voice samples of Gorhe and Narvekar. Both, however, resisted this fiercely citing various technical grounds even after the Bombay High Court had rejected their appeal against a Pune court order directing the Pune police to collect their voice samples.

Finally, after the BJP government came to power in Maharashtra in 2014, the government’s law and judiciary department, through the district government pleader, moved a petition to withdraw the case against them citing a Government Resolution relating to withdrawal of cases against social organisations and political parties where offences are registered for breach of prohibitory orders.

The Bori and Narvekar-Gorhe cases were politically-sensitive cases of a criminal nature. In the BORI case, the inability of the police-prosecution to present a water-tight case is laughable and the political interference in the Narvekar-Gorhe case, condemnable.

As former Director General of Police Jayant Umranikar has repeatedly said, the Indian Police force needs urgent reforms to transform it into a modern, professional force which will be service-oriented, closer to democratic values and be able to withstand political interference.

Till that does not happen we will have many occasions to hang our heads in shame with the state of affairs in our country.

First Published: Oct 29, 2017 21:14 IST