Release 10 activists charged in Bhima Koregaon; repeal UAPA: Activists

Convenor of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Maharashtra, Mihir Desai, Hasina Khan from the Bebak Collective, Justice Kolse Patil and Suresh Rajeshwar from the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) addressed the media.

Published - August 29, 2018 10:27 pm IST - Mumbai

Mumbai 29/08/2018: Mihir Desai speaks during the Joint press conference to condemn arrest of Civil Right Activist which was held at Press club on Wednesday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini

Mumbai 29/08/2018: Mihir Desai speaks during the Joint press conference to condemn arrest of Civil Right Activist which was held at Press club on Wednesday. Photo: Emmanual Yogini

Activists from 37 organisations gathered at the Press Club in Mumbai on August 29 demanded the release of the five activists who were arrested on August 28 as well as the five arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence and demanded the government withdraw cases against them.

Convenor of the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Maharashtra, Mihir Desai, Hasina Khan from the Bebak Collective, Justice Kolse Patil and Suresh Rajeshwar from the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) addressed the media.

Mr. Desai said FIR 4/18 was the most famous FIR in the country as “anyone could be included in it at any time”.

“The first FIR was filed in January 8 against six individuals but it was only in March that the charge of conspiracy was added,” he said.

Mr. Desai added that the State government had set up a commission under Justice J.N. Patil to investigate the cause behind the violence in the aftermath of the Elgar Parishad. “In an FIR that deals with provocative speeches, all the people who have been arrested were not linked to the the event,” Mr. Desai said.

Justice Kolse Patil unequivocally stated that the people who had been arrested on Ausgut 28 as well as the five arrested in June had no links to the Elgar Parishad.

Activist Susan Abraham narrated the court proceedings, where she said, police claimed to have new letters with fresh information. “They are now saying that this is a nationwide conspiracy and that they have 260 letters with fresh evidence, for which they said they will need 90 more days. After 180 days, who knows what the charge sheet will say,” she said. She also said that releasing documents connected to the case to the media was blatantly illegal and barred by the Bombay High Court. “They are just doing this to influence the public opinion. Some legal action has to be taken against the continuous release of fabricated documents to the media,” she said.

All the activists also demanded that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) be repealed as it was an unconstitutional law. “The UAPA is never misused. It is always used. The act was created for repression,” Mr. Desai said. He added that the law was inherently unconstitutional.

Ms. Abraham said that with the present dispensation armed with the UAPA, just about anything goes.

On the press conference conducted by the Pune Police, Justice Patil said that in the first remand report the Pune Police had said there is no connection between Elgar Parishad and Maoists. “We had only invited (Daliut activist Sudhir) Dhawale to help us in contacting organisations as there were nearly 300 involved. Elgar Parishad’s connection with the Maoists is 100% false,” he said.

Calling the Supreme Court’s decision, which was announced during the press conference, unprecedented, Mr. Desai said, “This is not a rap on the knuckles of the government, it is a slap on its face. This is a big first step towards an ultimate victory which we hope to achieve,” he said.

Ms. Abraham hoped that the all India nature of the action would also bring about a reaction at the national level.

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