Arrested for alleged links with Maoists, artiste Sachin Mali of Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) has been putting in 10 hours of studies every day in Arthur Road jail in Mumbai to clear the exam to be eligible for PhD studies at Savitribai Phule Pune University.
A post-graduate in Marathi from Fergusson College, Sachin is a native of Sangli district. He will come to Pune on Sunday to appear for an online entrance exam for PhD at Sinhagad College in Wadgaon Budruk in the morning. He got permission from the court and will be brought to Pune under police cover from Mumbai.
Sachin and his wife Sheetal Sathe, then a leading singer of KKM, are among the 14 including alleged CPI-Maoist operatives Milind Teltumbde and his wife Angela Sontakke, booked under sections of IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the Maharashtra ATS in 2011, for alleged naxal links.
Sheetal said, “Sachin scored a distinction in his post graduation. We provided him study material in jail. He has been studying for over 10 hours a day for the last one month. He plans to do a PhD in Marathi, the topic will be decided after discussion with his guide once he clears the entrance.”
In April-May 2011, ATS arrested Angela along with Sushma Ramteke (27) of Nagpur, Nandini Bhagat (22) and Anuradha Sonlue of Chandrapur, Siddhartha Bhosale (24), Jyoti Chorge (19) and the KKM poet-singer Deepak Dhengle (36) of Pune in the case.
Barring Angela, all were granted bail by the High Court (HC) in January 2012. The HC order stated that suspects could be “sympathizers of Maoist philosophy” but “none can be said to be active members of the banned CPI-Maoists.”
On April 2, 2013, Sheetal and Sachin surrendered after a “Satyagraha” in Mumbai. Days later, suspects Ramesh Gaychor and Sagar Gorkhe surrendered. Milind Teltumbde, Prashant Kamble, Santosh Shelar from Pune, and a girl, Jyothi are absconding. Sheetal was granted bail in July 2013 as she was pregnant. Sachin, Sagar and Ramesh are in jail.
According to ATS, Maoists penetrated KKM and goaded some artistes to join the naxal movement. The ATS charge sheet alleged that KKM members Sachin, Sheetal, Sagar and Ramesh participated in three arms training sessions in jungles between November 2011 and April 2012 when they were on the run. ATS claimed that some surrendered Maoist operatives identified KKM artists. KKM denied these allegations.