NCP wants Udhav Thakeray to drop cases against Bhima Koregaon plotters
04 December 2019
Days after the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its ally Congress stitched up an alliance with Shiv Sena to usurp power in Maharashtra, the NCP has demanded withdrawal of cases against plotters of the Bhima Koregaon violence.
The NCP-Congress alliance is using the newly formed Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra to wean off Shiv Sena from its Hindutua roots and replant it in the `secular’ Congress-NCP-Left axis.
Last year, the Pune police, in two rounds, had arrested nine activists, who, according to the police, have been involved in “urban Naxalism” and had allegedly plotted to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a “Rajiv Gandhi style assassination plot”.
The arrested were also accused of triggering violence on thousands of Dalit-Bahujans who were visiting Bhima Koregaon on the outskirts of Pune on 1 January 2018.
The gathering was organised to celebrate the 200th anniversary of a historic battle won by the British army – largely comprised of soldiers from the Dalit community – against the Peshwa regime ruled by the Brahmin king Baji Rao II in 1818.
NCP MLA Dhananjay Munde has written to the state’s chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, requesting him to look into the “false allegations” made against activists and lawyers who have been languishing in jail. Munde, in his letter, has demanded that the cases be withdrawn and the activists be released soon.
In his letter, written in Marathi, Munde said, “The BJP government has falsely implicated several activists. While some of them are already behind bars, others have been forced to visit the courts on a daily basis. BJP government has always been against an individual’s freedom of speech.” Munde further says, “People raising their voice against the government are intentionally attacked. At such times, it is important that those who have been victimised by the BJP government are given justice.”
In fact, the Sena, writing in its mouthpiece Saamana, had ridiculed the Pune police’s grounds for arrest and was critical of the way Fadnavis government had handled the investigation.
Those arrested then include Sudhir Dhawale, a writer and Mumbai-based Dalit rights activist, Surendra Gadling, a UAPA expert and lawyer from Nagpur, Mahesh Raut, a young activist on displacement issues from Gadchiroli, Shoma Sen, a university professor and head of the English literature department at Nagpur University, Rona Wilson, a Delhi-based prisoners’ rights activist, advocate Arun Ferreira, advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, writer Varavara Rao and Vernon Gonsalves. While the first five were arrested on 6 June, other arrests followed.
Soon after the violence in Bhima Koregaon, two senior Brahmin Hindutva leaders – Manohar Bhide and Minind Ekbote – were thought to be the masterminds behind the attack. Several victims had named them as the prime accused and said they had plotted and unleashed their men on the Bahujans visiting Bhima Koregaon. But the police overlooked those complaints and instead named several rights activists as the accused.
The police had solely based this case on electronic evidence and alleged letters that were exchanged between the arrested accused and some persons shown to be “absconding” in the case. The veracity of the electronic evidence has been challenged by the defence lawyers and also former judges.