The Pune district administration has barred Hindutva activist Milind Ekbote, some Elgaar Parishad organisers, including Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) members, some Dalit activists and several other local residents from Koregaon Bhima area from entering or being present in the limits of the district for over three days around the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima, which falls on January 1.
Based on recommendations from the Pune Rural Police, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Haveli taluka of Pune district, Sachin Baravkar, has issued these prohibitory orders to people who have been barred from entering or being present in Pune district from December 30 till 6 am on January 2, 2021. The order cites law and order and Covid-19 as primary reasons for the restrictions.
Such prohibitory orders under Criminal Procedure Code section 144 (2) have been issued to a bunch of people around January 1 every year, since 2018, when violence had broken out in the area when lakhs had gathered there to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle.
The order issued this year states that there is possibility that actions of these persons, if they come to Jaystambh area, “may provoke sentiments of the Dalit community and lead to disturbance in law and order”.
These persons include Hindutva activist Ekbote, who, along with another Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, has been accused of instigating violence in the area on January 1, 2018, which had led to the death of one person and left hundreds injured. Ekbote was arrested by Pune Rural Police and later released on bail. Bhide, who is a resident of Sangli district, has not been served the notice. Dalit activist Sushama Andhare, based on whose complaint Pune Rural Police had named Bhide and Ekbote as accused in the riots case, has also been served the notice.
Others who have been barred include KKM members Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaychor and Jyoti Jagtap, who are currently in judicial custody in jail in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. According to investigating agencies, KKM is alleged to be a front outfit of the banned CPI (Maoist) and some of its key members are under investigation by the National Investigation Agency in the Elgaar Parishad case.
Another KKM member, Rupali Jadhav, and two others who are known to have been part of the KKM in the past, Sheetal Sathe and Sachin Mali, have also been served notices. Activist Harshali Potdar, who was an Elgaar Parishad organiser and is a named accused in the case, has also been barred from Pune district during this period.
Other persons who have been barred include residents of Sanaswadi and Koregaon Bhima, some of whom have also been named as accused in cases of riot and vandalism, which took place on January 1, 2018.
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