Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Freedom India

Elgaar Parishad case: NIA arrests two Pune-based Kabir Kala Manch artists

Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor accused of having ‘Maoist’ links, 14 people have been arrested in the case so far

Sabrangindia 08 Sep 2020

NIA
Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Bhima Koregaon SDPA


With the arrest of artists Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken the total number of arrests in the Elgaar Parishad case to 14. Many more have been called for questioning by the NIA, most of them are academicians, lawyers, and civil rights activists.

According to news reports, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, are artists of the Pune-based cultural group, Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). According to a report in the Indian Express, they were also members of the 'Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan', which  had organised the Elgaar Parishad, at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017. The conclave had been organised, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.

With their arrest, the tally of those behind bars is now 14. In July, the NIA had arrested Delhi University Professor Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil in the same case. According to the IE news report, the NIA had also summoned several others, including Gorkhe and Gaichor, for questioning around that time.

Advocate Mihir Desai, one of the defence lawyers in this case, told IE that Gorkhe and Gaichor were called by the NIA to Mumbai for questioning over the last few days, and were arrested on Monday. The report adds that Gorkhe and Gaichor were among the 23 people booked in the Elgaar Parishad case by the Pune City Police for their alleged links with banned CPI-Maoist. They have been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

While the NIA took over the probe in the case earlier this year, the Pune City Police, in its chargesheet filed in 2019,  had claimed that as per the “objectives decided in the Eastern Regional Bureau meeting of the CPI-Maoist, the accused had allegedly organised Elgaar Parishad to mobilise various Dalits and other organisations against the government through alleged Maoist front organisation KKM” states the IE.

The news report quotes a Kabir Kal Manch artist, who wished to remain anonymous as saying that “This (Elgaar Parishad) case is completely false. The real culprits behind Koregaon Bhima violence are Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who are not being investigated. The agencies are targeting groups working for progressive causes.” These two are Hindutva leaders, and were named in connection with the Koregaon Bhima violence case. While Bhide was never arrested due to “lack of evidence”, Ekbote was arrested but released on bail after a few months, recalled the IE report. 

It added that Gorkhe and Gaichor were among KKM artistes booked by the Thane unit of state Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2011, after the arrest of “senior Maoist leader” Anjela Sontakke, for allegedly spreading Maoist ideology of armed struggle against the government. The ATS had also alleged that Gorkhe, Gaichor and a few more KKM artists had undergone arms training with Maoist cadres in the jungles of Gadchiroli. Gorkhe and Gairchor had gone into hiding for a few months, and were finally arrested by the ATS in 2013, soon after they surrendered by staging a ‘satyagraha’ in Mumbai. They were released in January 2017 after being granted bail by the Supreme Court.

The Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyan issued a statement condemning the arrests of Shahir Sagar Gorkhe and Shahir Ramesh Gaychor. They stated that “under the guise of questioning,” the two artists were “repeatedly threatened” with arrest, unless they turned witness for the state. According to the Abhiyan’s statement, the two “were threatened” with statements like “you have to become witness for the state under CRPC clause 164 and admit (falsely) that you went to the jungle in Gadchiroli and met Naxals there and that you have connections to Naxalites. unless you agree to this we will arrest you." 

The Abhiyan alleges that the state is now “targeting Ambedkarite activists who have fought against the brahmanical regime through constitutional means. These activists have been one with the people understanding their sorrow, pain, and struggle. It is clear that neither Pune Police nor NIA have any proof to justify these arrests. The arrests are being used to stifle the voices of social activists.” They have urged rights activists to “join hands to call for the release of all activists arrested under false pretense”.

Meanwhile, K. Satyanarayan, a professor of Cultural Studies at English and Foreign Language University and son-in-law of the jailed poet Varavara Rao, has been called for questioning by the NIA. According to N Venugopal Rao, Varavara Rao’s nephew, this is another form of “constant harassment” of the family. He posted his reaction on social media and stated, “now it seems the state wants to add some more distress to the family. VV's sons-in-law are now called by the NIA for questioning. You might be aware that their houses were raided on August 28, 2018, with a pretext of VV might be there at his daughters' houses. However, Pune police reached VV's house on that day before 7 and found him at his house only and there was no need to search his daughters' places for him.” 

Prof K. Satyanarayana has also made public an update he wrote to inform his friends after he got the NIA summons:

“Dear friends, I wish to share the distressing news that NIA, Mumbai  summoned me to appear before it as a witness under section 160 Cr.PC and also u/s 91 of Cr. PC on 09.09.2020. My co-brother K.V. Kurmanath, a senior journalist, was also summoned to appear at the same time and date. As you know, my flat was raided by Pune police in August 2018 under the pretext of collecting evidence against my father in law and revolutionary poet Varavara Rao. I stated then that I was in no way connected to  the Bhima Koregaon case. The fact of Varavara Rao being my father in law was used to raid my house and cause mental agony.

I remember how all of you had strongly condemned the raid on my flat and extended support. I thought it was all over. I am related to Varavara Rao but I have no connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. NIA notice adds to our family distress at a time when Varavara Rao's health condition is not very good and the pandemic is fast spreading in Mumbai. I am travelling to Mumbai in these terrible times. I need your support and best wishes.

Thank you.

K. Satyanarayana

Professor,

Department of Cultural Studies,

The English and Foreign Languages University,

Hyderabad.”

 

Related: 

NIA raids Prof Hany Babu’s house; DUTA asks govt to stop witch-hunt

Civil Society members request Maha CM to shift Bhima Koregaon activists out of jail

Green Nobel winner Prafulla Samantara protests against ‘undeclared emergency’ of Union government

SC stays Gautam Navlakha’s bail proceedings at Delhi HC; NIA says HC acted without jurisdiction

Bhima Koregaon case: SC rejects ABA of Anand Teltumbde, Gautam NavlakhaRona Wilson worked for release of political prisoners, now a prisoner himself

Officers investigating Bhima Koregaon, NE Delhi riots get Home Minister’s Medal for 

Only political vendetta can explain Varavara Rao's incarceration

 

Elgaar Parishad case: NIA arrests two Pune-based Kabir Kala Manch artists

Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor accused of having ‘Maoist’ links, 14 people have been arrested in the case so far

NIA
Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Bhima Koregaon SDPA


With the arrest of artists Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken the total number of arrests in the Elgaar Parishad case to 14. Many more have been called for questioning by the NIA, most of them are academicians, lawyers, and civil rights activists.

According to news reports, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, are artists of the Pune-based cultural group, Kabir Kala Manch (KKM). According to a report in the Indian Express, they were also members of the 'Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan', which  had organised the Elgaar Parishad, at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017. The conclave had been organised, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.

With their arrest, the tally of those behind bars is now 14. In July, the NIA had arrested Delhi University Professor Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil in the same case. According to the IE news report, the NIA had also summoned several others, including Gorkhe and Gaichor, for questioning around that time.

Advocate Mihir Desai, one of the defence lawyers in this case, told IE that Gorkhe and Gaichor were called by the NIA to Mumbai for questioning over the last few days, and were arrested on Monday. The report adds that Gorkhe and Gaichor were among the 23 people booked in the Elgaar Parishad case by the Pune City Police for their alleged links with banned CPI-Maoist. They have been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

While the NIA took over the probe in the case earlier this year, the Pune City Police, in its chargesheet filed in 2019,  had claimed that as per the “objectives decided in the Eastern Regional Bureau meeting of the CPI-Maoist, the accused had allegedly organised Elgaar Parishad to mobilise various Dalits and other organisations against the government through alleged Maoist front organisation KKM” states the IE.

The news report quotes a Kabir Kal Manch artist, who wished to remain anonymous as saying that “This (Elgaar Parishad) case is completely false. The real culprits behind Koregaon Bhima violence are Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who are not being investigated. The agencies are targeting groups working for progressive causes.” These two are Hindutva leaders, and were named in connection with the Koregaon Bhima violence case. While Bhide was never arrested due to “lack of evidence”, Ekbote was arrested but released on bail after a few months, recalled the IE report. 

It added that Gorkhe and Gaichor were among KKM artistes booked by the Thane unit of state Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2011, after the arrest of “senior Maoist leader” Anjela Sontakke, for allegedly spreading Maoist ideology of armed struggle against the government. The ATS had also alleged that Gorkhe, Gaichor and a few more KKM artists had undergone arms training with Maoist cadres in the jungles of Gadchiroli. Gorkhe and Gairchor had gone into hiding for a few months, and were finally arrested by the ATS in 2013, soon after they surrendered by staging a ‘satyagraha’ in Mumbai. They were released in January 2017 after being granted bail by the Supreme Court.

The Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyan issued a statement condemning the arrests of Shahir Sagar Gorkhe and Shahir Ramesh Gaychor. They stated that “under the guise of questioning,” the two artists were “repeatedly threatened” with arrest, unless they turned witness for the state. According to the Abhiyan’s statement, the two “were threatened” with statements like “you have to become witness for the state under CRPC clause 164 and admit (falsely) that you went to the jungle in Gadchiroli and met Naxals there and that you have connections to Naxalites. unless you agree to this we will arrest you." 

The Abhiyan alleges that the state is now “targeting Ambedkarite activists who have fought against the brahmanical regime through constitutional means. These activists have been one with the people understanding their sorrow, pain, and struggle. It is clear that neither Pune Police nor NIA have any proof to justify these arrests. The arrests are being used to stifle the voices of social activists.” They have urged rights activists to “join hands to call for the release of all activists arrested under false pretense”.

Meanwhile, K. Satyanarayan, a professor of Cultural Studies at English and Foreign Language University and son-in-law of the jailed poet Varavara Rao, has been called for questioning by the NIA. According to N Venugopal Rao, Varavara Rao’s nephew, this is another form of “constant harassment” of the family. He posted his reaction on social media and stated, “now it seems the state wants to add some more distress to the family. VV's sons-in-law are now called by the NIA for questioning. You might be aware that their houses were raided on August 28, 2018, with a pretext of VV might be there at his daughters' houses. However, Pune police reached VV's house on that day before 7 and found him at his house only and there was no need to search his daughters' places for him.” 

Prof K. Satyanarayana has also made public an update he wrote to inform his friends after he got the NIA summons:

“Dear friends, I wish to share the distressing news that NIA, Mumbai  summoned me to appear before it as a witness under section 160 Cr.PC and also u/s 91 of Cr. PC on 09.09.2020. My co-brother K.V. Kurmanath, a senior journalist, was also summoned to appear at the same time and date. As you know, my flat was raided by Pune police in August 2018 under the pretext of collecting evidence against my father in law and revolutionary poet Varavara Rao. I stated then that I was in no way connected to  the Bhima Koregaon case. The fact of Varavara Rao being my father in law was used to raid my house and cause mental agony.

I remember how all of you had strongly condemned the raid on my flat and extended support. I thought it was all over. I am related to Varavara Rao but I have no connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. NIA notice adds to our family distress at a time when Varavara Rao's health condition is not very good and the pandemic is fast spreading in Mumbai. I am travelling to Mumbai in these terrible times. I need your support and best wishes.

Thank you.

K. Satyanarayana

Professor,

Department of Cultural Studies,

The English and Foreign Languages University,

Hyderabad.”

 

Related: 

NIA raids Prof Hany Babu’s house; DUTA asks govt to stop witch-hunt

Civil Society members request Maha CM to shift Bhima Koregaon activists out of jail

Green Nobel winner Prafulla Samantara protests against ‘undeclared emergency’ of Union government

SC stays Gautam Navlakha’s bail proceedings at Delhi HC; NIA says HC acted without jurisdiction

Bhima Koregaon case: SC rejects ABA of Anand Teltumbde, Gautam NavlakhaRona Wilson worked for release of political prisoners, now a prisoner himself

Officers investigating Bhima Koregaon, NE Delhi riots get Home Minister’s Medal for 

Only political vendetta can explain Varavara Rao's incarceration

 

Related Articles

Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Bihar Govt has worst record on Land Rights to Adivasis: Brinda Karat

Speaking at the release of a fact-finding report about the firing in Adhaura block, Brinda Karat exposed the deeds of the Bihar Govt while lauding the democratic struggle of the Kaimur’s Kharwar Adivasi communities against an oppressive forest department

Dalit Bahujan Adivasi

Bihar Govt has worst record on Land Rights to Adivasis: Brinda Karat

Speaking at the release of a fact-finding report about the firing in Adhaura block, Brinda Karat exposed the deeds of the Bihar Govt while lauding the democratic struggle of the Kaimur’s Kharwar Adivasi communities against an oppressive forest department


Wednesday

14

Oct

11 am onwards

Not an Inch Back!

Main Gate KG-Campus

Friday

09

Oct

Albert Ekka Chowk, Ranchi

Monday

05

Oct

Valluvarkottam, Chennai

Theme

Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura
summer

Summer Culture

Our first summer culture bouquet features fiction from Syria and Iraq and poetry and art from Palestine.

Campaigns

Wednesday

14

Oct

11 am onwards

Not an Inch Back!

Main Gate KG-Campus

Friday

09

Oct

04 pm onwards

#IStandWithStanSwamy

Albert Ekka Chowk, Ranchi

Monday

05

Oct

Valluvarkottam, Chennai

Videos

I dissent! How a photojournalist is fighting hate

Can one be apolitical in these times of communal divide, hate and bigotry? How does one fight religious and caste prejudice? Photojournalist Vijay Pandey asks important questions in this SabrangIndia exclusive series ‘I dissent! Artists who are taking on bigotry’

I dissent! How a photojournalist is fighting hate

Can one be apolitical in these times of communal divide, hate and bigotry? How does one fight religious and caste prejudice? Photojournalist Vijay Pandey asks important questions in this SabrangIndia exclusive series ‘I dissent! Artists who are taking on bigotry’

IN FACT

Analysis

Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.
Delhi HC

Hate Speech and Delhi Pogrom 2020

A spate of provocative speeches, that amount to hate speech in law and should be prosecuted allowed blood letting to spill on the streets of north east Delhi in February-March 2020
hashimpura

Hashimpura Massacre

The Lemmings of Hashimpura
summer

Summer Culture

Our first summer culture bouquet features fiction from Syria and Iraq and poetry and art from Palestine.

Archives