Pune Police arrests five in connection with Bhima-Koregaon violence; all suspected to have Maoist links
Five people, with alleged Maoist links, were arrested on Wednesday from Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January.
Five people were arrested on Wednesday from Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence in January. All the five were arrested for allegedly spreading controversial pamphlets and delivering hate speech under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Ravindra Kadam, Joint Police Commissioner, Pune briefed the media on Thursday about the arrests. "Among the accused registered in FIR on 8 January, some were previously booked for having links with Naxals. We were investigating their links and in this connection, we raided houses of some of them", he said. He said that it was while investigating the Naxal links of Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, the Pune Police found their links with the other three people and arrested them accordingly.
Last April, the Pune Police had raided homes and offices of these activists in different parts of the country and even questioned them for their involvement in various Maoist-linked activities. Here is a detailed profile of all the accused arrested so far:
A Dalit activist and editor of the Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Dhawale founded the 'Republican Panthers Jatiantachi Chawal' (Republican Panthers Caste Annihilation Movement) to provide a common political platform for Dalits. He also launched a movement called 'Radical Ambedkar' and was previously arrested in January 2011 on charges of sedition for his alleged links with Maoists. At that time, he was a speaker at the Youth Ambedkari literature festival in Wardha. However, he was acquitted of all charges by a Gondia court in May 2014.
According to a report in the Mumbai Mirror, Dhawale had participated in the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and Left meet in Mumbai to protest the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh and in February 2017, he was part of the Rohit Vemula protest by Mumbai Students Solidarity at the Mumbai University.
Recently, Dhawale was found to be one of the active organisers of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune which was organised by Dalit organisations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima- Koregaon battle.
He is a native of Kerala, who is currently based in Delhi, and working as the public relations secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP). According to an Indian Express report, he has been active in campaigning against laws like UAPA and Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). He is also believed to be a close aide of the Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, who was arrested in May 2014, convicted and later sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2017 by a Gadchiroli court.
According to the report, police sources claim that after Saibaba’s conviction, Wilson allegedly took over his task of “coordination” between left-wing extremist outfits in urban and jungle areas of the country and also oversaw the international network.
She is a Nagpur-based activist who is also an English professor at the RTM Nagpur University. She had been under the police scanner for her alleged links with left-wing extremists. Sen even filed a PIL to support the activists of Maoist ideologies. She was also present for the Elgaar Parishad in Pune.
As per a report in the Nagpur Times, her husband Tusharkanti Bhattacharya was last arrested in August 2017 by the Gujrat police in connection with a 2010 case related to Maoist activities but was later released on bail. He had been arrested on similar charges on multiple occasions before.
Gadling is a lawyer based out of Nagpur, currently helming the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers as its general secretary. Known to be a tribal and Dalit rights activist, he has been providing legal aid to those arrested for Maoist links, including Saibaba and Dhawale. According to a Nagpur Times report, he even provided legal help to the Kabir Kala Manch artists who were questioned by the Nagpur police in September 2013 on allegations of carrying banned literature.
Raut is a former Prime Minister of Rural Development (PMRD) Fellow. He has been alleged of being the link between jungle operatives and urban outfits of the Maoists. According to the Express report, he has been active in the Maoist affected Gadchiroli district for the last few years.
In April 2013, when Raut was a PMRD fellow, he was detained by the Gadhchiroli Police with his aide Harshali Potdar, after two Maoists arrested from the Koinvarshi village revealed that the duo was supposed to accompany them to meet senior Maoist leaders in the jungles. However, they were released after questioning.
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