The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday arrested activist Jyoti Jagtap in Pune in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, confirmed a group that organised the Elgar Parishad event in 2017. The group said that she will be transferred to the custody of the National Investigation Agency.
Jagtap is also a member of the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan group. Her arrest came a day after the NIA took into its custody two other activists from the group – Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor. The total number of arrests in the case has now gone up to 15.
“Pune ATS has arrested Jyoti Jagtap (member of Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan and Kabir Kala Manch),” the group said in a statement. “From there onwards, she will be handed over to the NIA for custody.”
Jagtap, Gorkhe and Gaichor are among the six members of the group against whom a Pune-based realtor had filed a first information report in 2018. The complainant had accused them of delivering provocative speeches at the event.
In July, the NIA had summoned Gorkhe, Gaichor and several other people for questioning in the case. The agency had also arrested Delhi University Professor Hany Babu at that time.
In a video recorded before their arrest on Monday, Gorkhe and Gaichor had alleged that the NIA was forcing them to give statements to implicate those arrested in the case. They also alleged that they were threatened with arrest if they did not agree to be witnesses in the case.
Gorkhe and Gaichor were among the 23 persons booked in the Elgar Parishad case by the Pune City Police under the anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. They have been accused of participating in a Maoist conspiracy to overthrow the government and assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The NIA took over the investigation in the case earlier this year.
On Monday, the NIA summoned Dalit scholar and activist Satyanarayana, journalist KV Kurmanath and Partho Sarothi Ray, who is associate professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, for questioning.
Violence broke out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. This came a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 in which the Dalit Mahar soldiers fighting for the British Army defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2.
Apart from Babu, Gaichor and Gorkhe, activists Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha have been arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Several rights organisations have criticised the government’s actions in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon investigations as stifling dissent and called it an attempt to criminalise and silence intellectuals in India.