Skip to main content

Five Maharashtra Dalit rights leaders arrested: "Draconian" UAPA law invoked for Jan 1 Pune violence

Celebration on the 200th anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon victory
By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the Pune Police on Wednesday early morning, around 6.00 am, arrested several activists, imposing on them sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which ensure long detention with added difficulties in obtaining bail. The arrests took place, purportedly, in response to the FIR registered on January 8, 2018 at Vishram Baug Police Station, Pune, with regard to the holding of the Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017 by the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan.
Reacting on the development, well-known Dalit rights leader Dr Anand Teltumbde, general secretary, Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), said, the FIR was “originally registered “under sections 153(A), 505 (1)(b), 117 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)”, but was turned into a “conspiracy case in March 2018”, with UAPA sections being added to it now.
Calling it a “draconian” move, Teltumbde said, “These arrests are in the face of the mass demand of several political parties and human rights organizations and activists and the Prerna Abhiyan, in particular, to arrest the leaders of Sangh Parivar organizations, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who were responsible for the violence on January 1, 2018 at Bhima-Koregaon.”
He added, “The Phadnavis government, which has been protecting these actual perpetrators of the violence, has been attempting to create a false narrative that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was caused by the Elgar Parishad and that banned Maoist organizations are behind the Prerna Abhiyan.”
Those arrested in the early morning swoop are advocate Surendra Gadling, who happens to be general secretary of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers from Nagpur; Prof Shoma Sen, head of department, English, Nagpur University; Sudhir Dhawale, editor, “Vidrohi”, Mumbai; Rona Wilson, public relations secretary, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners; and Mahesh Raut, anti-displacement activist from the Bharat Jan Andolan and former fellow at the Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) for Gadchiroli district.
Arrested activists
The Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan is a coalition of around 260 mass organizations under the Chairmanship of Retired Supreme Court Justice PB Sawant and includes prominent political figures like Prakash Ambedkar, leader of the Bahujan Republican Party and Justice Kolse-Patil (retired).
In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon that “vanquished” the Peshwa rule, the Abhiyan organized a mass meeting on December 31, 2017 at the historic Shaniwar Wada in Pune, with several prominent speakers like retired High Court Justice Kolse Patil, Prakash Ambedkar, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and others.
Dr Teltumbde said, “The Elgar Parishad was organised with the stated objective of fighting the Nav-peshwahi. The programme was hugely successful and attended by thousands from across the state. However on the following day, those commemorating the event at Bhima-Koregaon were attacked by a mob carrying saffron flags and instigated by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, two right wing activists who are closely connected with the ruling BJP and this attack was part of a pre-meditated plan.”
According to him, “The entire operation has been stage-managed by the Maharashtra government keeping in mind the judicial enquiry headed by Justice JN Patel (Retd) in order to ensure that submissions from the victims of the Hindutva and State violence are suppressed. It has also been done to queer the pitch for the forthcoming elections in the State as well as 2019.”
He added, “The BJP government is desperate to create a reign of terror in order to polarize the Dalit and Bahujan votes. And also to create a terror narrative thereby protecting the real terror culprits Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote who will ensure votes for the BJP.”
Meanwhile, well-known Gujarat’s Dalit rights leader and MLA Jignesh Mevani, has termed the arrest as an “attack on Ambedkarite movement”, tweeting, the “Maharashtra police has arrested Ambedkarite activist and editor Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai, advocate Surendra Gadling in Nagpur and Rona Wilson in Delhi. under draconian UAPA, while Bhima Koregaon culprit Manohar Bhide roam scot free.”

Comments

TRENDING

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”

Modi's Kashmir move meant to 'solidify' Hindu majoritarianism, 'demonize' Muslims

By Battini Rao*
The parliament of India on August 6 put its stamp of approval on bills abrogating article 370 and downgrading the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to two union territories. When the representatives of the people of India were deciding the fate of the state, the people of J&K were forced into collective house arrests.