A day after it arrested two members of cultural outfit Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday arrested a third artist, Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap (33), in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. On Monday, the NIA had arrested Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe (32) and Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor (36) over their alleged Maoist links.
All three artists were “propagating Naxal activities” and were in contact with absconding accused Milind Teltumbde, a top leader of the banned CPI-Maoist, the NIA has claimed.
They have been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Gorkhe and Gaichor were produced before the NIA special court in Mumbai on Tuesday, and remanded them to NIA custody for four days. Jagtap will be produced before the court on Wednesday.
Gorkhe, Gaichor and Jagtap are lead poet-singers of KKM, which, according to NIA, is “a frontal organisation of terrorist outfit CPI-Maoist.”
All three were among the six initially named in the FIR lodged in connection with the case at Vishrambag police station in Pune, which alleged that the Elgaar Parishad, held on December 31, 2017, and organised by KKM activists, was aimed at “inciting people and giving provocative speeches”. These speeches had “promoted enmity between various caste groups and led to violence (in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1, 2018), resulting in loss of life and property….”
“During investigation, it was revealed that senior leaders of CPI-Maoist, an organisation banned under the UAPA, were in contact with the organisers of Elgaar Parishad as well as the accused arrested in the case so as to spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities,” the NIA stated in a press release on Tuesday.
“During further investigation, it was revealed that accused Gorkhe, Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap were propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology, and were co-conspirators with other arrested accused. It has also come on record that the arrested accused were in contact with absconding accused Milind Teltumbde about the urban network of CPI (Maoist). Also it is established that during their visits to the jungle, they underwent weapons and explosive training, and awareness programmes on various topics related to Maoist movement,” the agency claimed.
The NIA also claimed that in June 2018, Milind Teltumbde discussed Elgar Parishad, “and the subsequent inroads made by the CPI-Maoist… through the members of KKM and other frontal organisations”.
Pune City Police had booked 23 persons in this case and arrested nine among them, before the NIA took over the investigation of the case in January this year. The agency has further arrested six persons, including Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu and the three KKM artists, so far. The total number of arrests in the Elgaar Parishad case has now reached 15.
KKM condemns arrests of its artists
The Kabir Kala Manch has condemned the arrests of its members and termed the Elgaar Parishad case as “false”. The outfit claimed that the case was an attempt to protect Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who are the “real culprits” behind Koregaon Bhima violence. Bhide and Ekbote are accused in another case related to the violence, which is being investigated by the Pune Rural Police
Meanwhile, the ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan’ issued a press release late on Monday, saying “Gorkhe and Gaichor had refused to bow down to NIA, which had warned them of arrests unless they agreed to give a confession under Section 164 of CrPC, saying they had links with Naxals”.
Investigators, however, claimed that KKM has been on their radar over its “Maoist links” for the last few years. Gorkhe, Gaichor and a few other KKM artists were arrested earlier in 2011, in connection with an offence lodged by the Maharashtra ATS, in which Milind Teltumbde and his wife Anjelo Sontakke were also booked as “leaders of Golden Corridor Committee” of the CPI-Maoist, allegedly operating in the urban areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
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