The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday, 8 September, arrested artist-activists Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor of the Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch, in connection with the Elgar Parishad Case. A third activist from the group, Jyoti Jagtap, was arrested from her residence on Tuesday.
Booking the three activists under various sections of law including UAPA, the NIA said, “The accused persons are members of Kabir Kala Manch a frontal organization of banned terrorist organization CPI (Maoist).”
The three activists were members of the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan, a body that had organised the Elgar Parishad conclave near Shaniwar Wada in Pune on 31 December 2017, just days ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregoan battle.
‘Activists Propagating Naxal Activities and Maoist Ideology’: NIA
The NIA, in its statement, said:
During investigation, it was revealed that senior leaders of CPI (Maoist), an organisation banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were in contact with the organizers of Elgar Parishad as well as the accused arrested in the case so as to spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities.
During further investigation, it was revealed that accused Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe, Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor and Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap were propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology and were a co-conspirators with other arrested accused. It has also come on record that the arrested accused persons were in contact with absconding accused Milind Teltumbde about Urban network of CPI (Maoist). Also it is established that during their visits (of Kabir Kala Manch, members) in jungle, they underwent weapon & explosive training and awareness programme on various topics related to Maoist movement.
It is also established that as per the evidence on record that in June 2018 absconding accused Milind Teltumbde discussed about the Elgar Parishad Programme which was organized at Pune and the subsequent inroads made by the CPI (Maoist) in the organization and execution through the members of Kabir Kala Manch and other frontal organizations.
‘Asked to Confess Maoist Links’
The arrest of the three Kabir Kala Manch artists takes the total number of arrests in the Elgar Parishad case to 15, which includes academics, lawyers and activists . Gorkhe and Gaichor were questioned by the NIA in Mumbai over the last few days, following which they were arrested on Monday.
In a video posted on Facebook, Sagar Gorkhe said that they are cultural activists who merely sang on the stage at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune. He also alleged that the the NIA had on 4 September offered to set the two cultural activists free, if they confessed to having Maoist ties.
Press note 7 September 2020 Shahir Sagar Gorkhe and Shahir Ramesh Gaichor, both members of Bhima Koregoan Shauryadin...Posted by Kabir Kala Manch कबीर कला मंच on Monday, September 7, 2020
"“They said that ‘if you confess having Maoist connections, we would set you free. If you write an apology letter, we would release you.’”" - Sagar Gorkhe
He also claimed that the investigators asked them to testify that Elgar Parishad is a programme by Maoists.
Maintaining that they had done nothing wrong and only acted in adherence with the Constitution, Gorkhe said that he and Gaichor had refused to provide any written apology to the police.
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