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Friday, July 30, 2021

‘Murder by the system’: Cops, activists launch into verbal clashes at protest site

Claiming that Swamy's death was "murder by the system", and that he was treated inhumanly after his arrest, activists gathered under the banner of 'Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyaan' and staged a protest.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: July 13, 2021 8:05:58 am
At the protest at Pune district collectorate on Monday. Arul Horizon

HEATED ARGUMENTS broke out between police and activists gathered at the Pune district collectorate during a protest on Monday against the death of Father Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case.

Arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly being a member of the banned CPI-Maoist, Swamy died on July 5 at Holy Family Multispecialty Hospital in Mumbai, where he was undergoing treatment following court permission.

Claiming that Swamy’s death was “murder by the system”, and that he was treated inhumanly after his arrest, activists gathered under the banner of ‘Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyaan’ and staged a protest.

However, when activists started sloganeering using microphones and loudspeakers at the entrance of the Pune district collectorate, police on duty asked them to move to another location. Police also asked the activists not to use speakers, and to avoid crowding in view of Covid-19 safety norms.

Activists, however, slammed the cops saying it was unfair as political parties like Congress and BJP had been allowed to protest at the same site recently. Activists also shouted slogans like, ‘Sarkar humse darti hai, police ko aagey karti hai (the government is afraid of us and, hence, it sends the police forward)’.

Activists then moved to another location, but police did not allow them to use loudspeakers and microphones. Manav Kamble of Swaraj Abhiyan alleged that according to the instructions of Devendra Fadnavis (opposition leader), Hindutva leaders accused in the Koregaon Bhima violence were set free, while 16 activists, including artists from Pune-based Kabir Kala Manch working for the cause of Dalits and human rights, were falsely implicated and arrested. Kamble also criticised NCP chief Sharad Pawar and the Uddhav Thackeray-led government for police action against protesters.

Former corporator Maruti Bhapkar said Swamy’s death was a murder, which is the fallout of a conspiracy by the central government and the Thackeray government. He condemned police action calling it a crime against those protesting peacefully using constitutional rights. Kabir Kala Manch artists performed protest songs. Members of Muslim Mulnivasi Manch, Bahujan Ekta Parishad, Manav Seva Sanstha, Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, Nav Samajwadi Parivar, Navjavan Bharat, Social Democratic Party of India and others took part in the agitation.

A delegation submitted a memorandum of demands to the resident deputy collector and demanded immediate release of all accused arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case, repealing of the UAPA, proper facilities to undertrials as per jail manual, arrest of Hindutva activists Sambhaji Bhide and Manohar Bhide in the Koregaon Bhima violence case, formation of special investigation team to probe the alleged planting of evidence on computers seized from the accused.

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