Lawyers protest arrest of Nagpur advocate Surendra Gadling

Mr. Gadling has been arrested in relation with the violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune when Dalits congregated to celebrate the British victory over Peshwas with the help of Mahar soldiers.

June 07, 2018 05:39 pm | Updated 05:40 pm IST - NEW DELHI

 Pune police raided Adv. Surendra Gadling residence, believe to be related to Bhima-Koregaon violence case.

Pune police raided Adv. Surendra Gadling residence, believe to be related to Bhima-Koregaon violence case.

Lawyers from the Indian Association of People's Lawyers have expressed their concern over the arrest of advocate Surendra Gadling from his house in Nagpur, alleging an attack on lawyers who are fighting cases of marginalised people.

Mr. Gadling has been arrested in relation with the violence at Bhima Koregaon near Pune when Dalits congregated to celebrate the British victory over Peshwas with the help of Mahar soldiers.

Addressing the media here on Thursday, IAPL vice-president Sudha Bharadwaj said that the sudden arrest was part of a pattern where “people's lawyers” are being targeted, in violation of the widely-held norm that “being a lawyer of a political prisoner is not a crime”.

A release by the IAPL said that this is part of a larger pattern: advocates Upendra Nayak of Odisha, Murugan of Tamil Nadu and Satyendra Chaubey of Chhattisgarh “have all been implicated in the cases of their own clients, which is absolutely unacceptable as per United Nations principles on the role of lawyers”.

“In the morning of June 6, 2018, the Pune Police arrested senior advocate Surendra Gadling from his house in Nagpur at 6 a.m. The arrest has been made in connection with an FIR registered on January 8, 2018 at Vishrambaug PS in Pune. The FIR originally alleged inciting communal harmony at the Elgar Parishad program organised on December 31, 2018 to commemorate 200 years of the victory of Mahar soldiers over the Peshwa in the Bhima Koregaon battle,” the release said. “In March 2018, the case was converted into a criminal conspiracy. On April 17, 2018, though the FIR did not originally name advocate Gadling, the police raided his house and office and confiscated all possible CDs, hard disks, computer systems – including the family's devices. Yesterday he and other intellectuals and activists were arrested in the same case, by adding several sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which ensures long detention and difficulty in obtaining bail.”

Apart from Mr. Gadling, head of the English department at Nagpur University Shoma Sen, Marathi poet Sudhir Dhavale, Rona Wilson of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners and anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut have also been arrested.

“The bias of the state is all the more obvious when the leaders of Hindutva organisations named in many complaints and FIRs as instigators of the Bhima Koregaon violence – Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide – whose anticipatory bail applications have been refused by even the Supreme Court, still roam free,” the release said.

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