Two activists of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali on Tuesday staged a “satyagraha” outside the Vidhan Bhavan (Maharashtra State Legislature) in protest against being accused as Maoists and absconders by the police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They were accompanied by political leaders and activists of the KKM Defence Committee.

Prakash Reddy of the Communist Party of India (CPI), who was present in the morning during the satyagraha, said the two activists were singers and fighting for an equal society.

“It is to publicly demonstrate that they have not committed any crime and had not indulged in any unlawful activity that they chose to come out today,” he added.

The Marine Drive police confirmed that the duo was brought to the police station and handed over to the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS).

The government does not want artists to perform or rebel, Mr. Reddy said.

In a statement, friends of the KKM Defence Committee said: “We wish this voluntary appearance of the KKM before the police to be a matter of public record and expect the police to restrain from torturing them or implicating them in any false case. We expect nothing less and nothing more than the due process of law.”

Appearing before the police, the KKM members stated, should not be construed as “surrender” but as a form of “satyagraha” to clear their name and establish the fact that their goal was to fight for justice within the confines of democratic conduct.

Clarifying that the KKM was a cultural organisation that had over many years spread its “anti-caste,” “pro-democracy” message through music, poetry and theatre, the statement said it was increasing atrocities on Dalits and weaker sections of society that led to the songs and words of the KKM admittedly becoming more militant.

“It is this militancy that brought them under the police scanner,” the KKM Defence Committee said.

The police arrested KKM members and some of them had to go underground. Two of their members were charged and arrested under the UAPA, the statement said adding that recently the Bombay High Court granted bail to two arrested members of the KKM, Deepak Dengle and Siddharth.

It ruled that unless the police made out a case that an actual crime was committed by the accused, they cannot interpret the UAPA to arrest people merely on the basis of an alleged ideology.

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