In a co-ordinated operation on the morning of June 6, the Pune police arrested Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai, activist Rona Wilson from New Delhi and human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur university English professor Shoma Sen and Adivasi rights activist Mahesh Raut from Nagpur. All five were produced before a Pune court judge on Thursday and remanded to police custody till June 14.
In addition to charges of inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence, the police have charged all five under sections of the controversial Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for alleged links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The police claim that a letter has been seized from Mr. Wilson allegedly mentioning a requirement of Rs 8 crore to procure M-4 rifles and four lakh rounds, and discusses a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in “another Rajiv Gandhi type incident.”
Huge rallies held in Mumbai and Pune to protest arrests
“Arrest Bhide” was one of the rallying cries at the protest in Mumbai on Friday, as protesters called for an immediate release of Dhawale, Gadling, Sen, Wilson and Raut. Most of the protesters were from the Republican Panthers, an organisation founded by Dhawale to fight for the rights of Dalits.
Dhawale is a prominent writer, poet and social activist who publishes “Vidrohi,” a Marathi magazine that focuses on various socialist and human rights causes. He was also one of the organisers of the Elgar Parishad. “The BJP government has arrested Dhawale and the others because we were openly challenging their fascism at the Elgar Parishad,” said Sharad Gaikwad, the state president of the Republican Panthers.