Pune: Release Naxalite sympathisers, they have not been violent, say activists
Activists of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) and its civil society supporters yesterday demanded the release of four ‘surrendered’ activists of KKM, who had been jailed after police suspected them of being sympathetic to the Naxalite cause.
Kabir Kala Manch activist Jyoti Chorghe addressing the media at a press conference yesterday. Pic/Mohan Patil
“Even if anyone says that they are Naxalites, police should not arrest them. Arrest should be made only in case the concerned youths are involved in violent activities,” said veteran socialist leader Bhai Vaidya, member of the Kabir Kala Manch Defence Committee.
The KKM is a cultural group formed by Pune-based activist Amarnath Chandaliya after the Gujarat riots of 2002. KKM members Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali were arrested in April 2013 by the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) after they had surrendered to the police outside the state assembly premises. This was followed by the surrender of another two activists, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaychor in May 2013. The four youths had joined KKM in 2005 and allegedly undergone arms training in forest areas of Gadchiroli and Gondia district.
Deepak Dhengle and Jyoti Chorghe, active members of the KKM, demanded the release of the four ‘surrendered’ KKM members.
“We demand that the government should release the four on bail. Let the court trial continue, but why are they being denied bail,” questioned Deepak and Jyoti. The police, especially the special Anti-Naxal Cell of Pune, keep on summoning us for no valid reasons,” Deepak added.
Special Inspector General of Police (Nagpur range) Ravindra Kadam, in a media interaction recently claimed that another youth attached to KKM and an active member of the banned organisation CPI (Maoist) Santosh Shelar alias Painter, a resident of Kasewadi slum in Pune city, was active in Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district and draws cartoons for the outfit.
The KKM defence committee’s press conference was to counter the claims made by Kadam. Civil society members Bhai Vaidya, Anand Patwardhan, Abhijit Vaidya, Simantini Dhuru, Vilas Wagh and others were present for the conference. Film director Anand Patwardhan said, “The alleged acts done by Naxalites in Pune have no connection with the KKM. On the other hand, in spite of having registered many cases against Hindu Rashtra Sena chief Dhananjay Desai, police did not arrest him immediately. What are the political gains for implicating KKM members in false cases?”
Bhai Vaidya said, “Every youth has the right to express his opinions even if they are radical in nature. Sachin Mali, Sheetal Sathe, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaychor have been in jail for more than two years and we condemn the government which is
responsible for this. They should be released immediately, at least on bail. Police should not arrest people until they are involved in any violent activities.”
“There is a difference between a rebel and a Maoist. We have no objection to anyone shouting slogans, singing anti-government songs, but participating in armed revolution is not constitutional. We want the KKM to condemn the killing of innocent tribals by the Maoists,” said Special Inspector General (Nagpur) Ravindra Kadam.