Six months after caste violence over the bicentennial celebration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon near Pune, police on Wednesday arrested five people — “urban Maoist operatives”— who allegedly participated in or were behind a meeting where the speeches made were alleged incitement to violence.
Rona Wilson: From Kerala, Wilson is based in Delhi and is public relations secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP).
He has been active in campaigning against laws such as UAPA and AFSPA. He is supposed to be a close aide of Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, who was arrested in May 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment by a Gadchiroli court in March last year.
Police claimed that after Saibaba’s conviction, Wilson allegedly took over his task of “co-ordination” between Left-wing extremist outfits in urban and jungle areas of country and also the international network.
Sudhir Dhawale: A Dalit activist and editor of Marathi magazine Vidrohi, Dhawale founded the Republican Panthers Jatiantachi Chawal for creating a common political platform for Dalits.
He also launched a movement called Radical Ambedkar. He was arrested in January 2011 on charges of sedition for alleged Maoist links.
However, he was acquitted of all charges by a Gondia court in May 2014. He was among the organisers of Elgaar Parishad in Pune and was active in a programme to mark the death anniversary of Maoist leader Sridhar Srinivasan in Mumbai in 2016.
Surendra Gadling: Based in Nagpur, Gadling, a lawyer, is general secretary of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers.
Known to be a tribal and Dalit rights activist, he has been providing legal aid to those arrested for Maoist links, including Saibaba and Dhawale.
He had provided legal help to Kabir Kala Manch artists who had been questioned by Nagpur police in September 2013 on allegations of carrying ‘suspicious’ literature.
Shoma Sen: Activist Shoma Sen is a professor of English at Nagpur University.
She has been under the scanner of investigating agencies for alleged links with Left-wing extremists. She was present for the Elgaar Parishad in Pune.
Her husband Tusharkanti Bhattacharya was arrested by Gujarat police in connection with a 2010 case related to Maoist activities, but later released on bail.
Mahesh Raut: Raut is a former Prime Minister’s Rural Development fellow. He is alleged to be the link between jungle operatives and urban outfits of Maoists.
In April 2014, when Raut was PMRD fellow, he was detained by the Gadchiroli police with his aide Harshali Potdar, after two Maoists arrested from Koinvarshi village said that the two were supposed to go with them to meet senior Maoist leaders in jungles.
But Raut and Potdar were released by the police after questioning. Raut had recently shifted to Nagpur.