Activists arrested in nationwide raids: the story so far

A Pune resident’s FIR was trigger for activists' arrests

A First Information Report (FIR) filed in January this year against members of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) — a cultural group which was under the police scanner for alleged Maoist connection even during the previous Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government — is turning out to be the basis of the crackdown in some States by the Pune police against rights activists on charges of having Naxal connections.

On January 8, 2018, Tushar Ramesh Damgude, a resident of Pune registered an FIR against members of KKM, namely Sudhir Dhawale, Sagar Gorkhe, Harshali Potdar, Ramesh Gaichor, Deepak Dengle and Jyoti Jagtap for allegedly making provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017 to commemorate the Koregaon-Bhima war between Peshwa rulers and British. The battle is perceived as the victory of Mahar (Dalit) warriors, who fought with the British, over Brahminical Peshwa regime of Pune.


“I had gone there to listen to what various speakers in Elgar Parishad wanted to say. I knew Kabir Kala Manch since few of its activists were already jailed for their Naxal links. After the Parishad, we all know what happened in Bhima-Koregaon when riots broke out,” Mr. Damgude had told The Hindu .

He said he waited till January 8 to file an FIR because he was making up his mind as he was taking on the Maoists. “These people have blown up jeeps and trucks of security forces. I have a family and I was making up my mind on whether to file the FIR,” he added.

As per the FIR, members of KKM made vicious and communal speeches, spoke wrong history and sang provocative songs that led to communal violence between two communities leading to stone pelting, and communal tension.

Based on this FIR, Pune police in June 2018 arrested five activists including Sudhir Dhawale mentioned in the FIR. Other four include, Shoma Sena, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling. Tuesday's arrests of five other activists were made based on evidence allegedly recovered from these persons.

When asked about his photo with another accused in Bhima-Koregaon riots and extreme right wing activist Sambhaji Bhide of Shri Shivpratishthan, Mr Damgude said he Mr. Bhide in April and the FIR was filed in January.

“Just like anyone else in this country, I have freedom of expression and register complaint against things I see are harmful to the society. I can meet any person and I can click photos with anyone, but that doesn't mean I am filing FIR to safeguard someone,” he claimed.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 9:13:29 AM |

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