The Pune city police have arrested suspected members of the banned Communist Party of India (CPI-Maoist) in connection with the Elgaar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31. The event, police said, allegedly led to the violence on January 1, during the 200th year celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The arrests were made in Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi.
All three have been arrested for spreading controversial pamphlets and delivering hate speech.
Violence erupted in Pune on January 1 when Dalit groups were marking the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the British defeated the Peshwas of Maharashtra. Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community were part of the East India Company’s forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory is seen as a symbol of Dalit assertiveness. Normal life was crippled in Maharashtra due to a bandh called by Dalit groups to protest the violence on the anniversary of a battle fought 200 years ago.
The arrested, who police claim are “top urban Maoist operatives”, include an Elgaar Parishad organiser Sudhir Dhawale, leader of Republican Panthers Jati Antachi Chalwal, Delhi-based Rona Wilson of Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) and Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL).
Last month, a victim of the January 1 Bhima Koregaon violence in Pune has filed an application in the Bombay High Court challenging the bail granted by a local court to Milind Ekbote, the prime accused in the case.
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