The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Pimpri-Chinchwad police, formed to investigate violence during the Maratha reservation agitation in Chakan on July 30, 2018 has arrested 59 persons based on electronic evidence till now.
With 35 persons apprehended by the Pune Rural police earlier, the tally of arrests has reached 94, including 19 minors and persons from communities other than Marathas.
Among those arrested by the SIT is a woman who allegedly delivered a speech by climbing on a bus following which a section of the mob turned violent, the probe shows. Police are looking for more people who delivered speeches that allegedly provoked the crowd.
On July 30, the agitation for Maratha reservation took a violent turn in Chakan and Khed area in the industrial belt of Pune district. Mobs set ablaze buses and private vehicles, hurled stones at bystanders and attacked the police station in Chakan. Protesters blocked the Pune-Nashik highway for over seven hours. Three officers were among 10 police officals who were injured in a stone pelting and 90 vehicles were torched and vandalised.
The area was under the jurisdiction of the Pune Rural police at the time of the incident. They arrested 35 persons till the probe was in their hands. But the Chakan police station came under the Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissionerate when it was formed in August. In October, an SIT was formed to probe the case.
The SIT has largely focused on how the mobs were mobilised and how the attacks on vehicles and police officials were executed. Teams have scanned videos and images of the violence, many of which they received in November and December.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Smartna Patil, who is heading the SIT, said, “As of now, the total number of arrests is 94 including 19 juveniles. Many of these arrests were made in the last two to three weeks. The arrests will continue in the coming days. We are conducting the probe based on a large number of images and videos that were captured during the violence. There is footage from security cameras and people have sent us photos and videos. We have concrete proof against all the persons who have been arrested till now. We are still receiving photos and videos from the time.”
A police officer, who requested anonymity, said, “We have arrested a woman who is aged around 40 and had climbed a bus to deliver a speech on the day. We have reasons to believe that after that speech, a section of the mob got provoked and resorted to violence. We are also looking for some others who delivered speeches that are suspected to have provoked the violence. It also needs to be highlighted that around 10 to 15 per cent of arrested persons do not belong to the Maratha community. Some have been arrested from Chakan while some others are from areas nearby.”
Immediately after the violence, police had registered an offence stating that a gathering of four to five thousand persons had turned violent. They, however, said the number of persons who resorted to violence will be smaller. Besides sections of the Indian Penal Code, police have also invoked a section under the National Highways Act for blocking traffic and a section under National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act for burning tyres.