Sheetal Sathe, who was the lead poet singer of Pune-based cultural group Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), which is under the scanner of investigation agencies for its alleged links with Maoists, Friday condemned the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and called its attempt to disrupt her program in Solapur as an act of “intolerance”. Sathe said she is ready for a discussion with ABVP if they can show any Maoist thoughts in her performance.
Sheetal was called for a performance at a personality development camp organised by the Bahujan Parishad in Solapur on January 2. ABVP activists had opposed this program citing her alleged links with Maoists. ABVP activists allegedly tried to disrupt her program by shouting slogans at the venue. ABVP had opposed her program at the Saint Xavier’s College in Mumbai in August 2014.
Sheetal and her husband Sachin Mali are among the 14 persons including alleged CPI-Maoist leaders Milind Teltumbde, his wife Angela Sontakke and few KKM artistes, booked by the Maharashtra ATS in 2011, under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
ATS arrested Angela along with six operatives in April-May 2011. Apart from Angela, others were granted bail by the High Court. Later, Sheetal and Sachin surrendered on April 2, 2013, by staging a “satyagraha”. After a few days, Ramesh Gaychor and Sagar Gorkhe of KKM also surrendered. Sheetal was granted bail as she was pregnant at that time. The other three are still in jail.
During a press conference in Pune, Sheetal said, “There is no condition in my bail order that I should not sing or perform. It is my constitutional right to sing, speak and perform. Also, I promote thoughts of Mahatma Phule, Chhatrapati Shahu and Dr Ambedkar though my performance. I do not support Maoism at all. All allegations against us are false…. We live in a democratic country. So ABVP cannot dictate what I should do. Their act of disrupting my program is nothing but intolerance. They should follow democratic ways like discussion. I am ready to hold discussion with ABVP anytime, anywhere.”
As per the chargesheet submitted by ATS before the court, four KKM members including Sheetal had allegedly participated in arms training with at least 150 naxals in jungle areas between November 2011 and April 2012, while they were on the run.
ATS claimed that a few surrendered naxals have identified the KKM artists as active members of CPI-Maoists.
Sheetal said these surrendered naxals are “paid witnesses” who can name anyone on the instruction of police.
“I condemn the naxal violence and their narrow minded philosophy,” she said. Senior social activists Bhai Vaidya and Professor Vilas Wagh extended their support to Sheetal.
Meanwhile, she said that she cannot make any statement on behalf of other KKM activists as the group does not function unitedly now.