The National Investigating Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, both members of Kabir Kala Manch -a predominantly Dalit and working-class troupe using protest music – in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case.
The two were named in the original FIR registered by Pune Police against the organisers of Elgar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada on December 31, 2017.
In its chargesheet filed last year, the Pune City Police had said that as per the “objectives decided in the Eastern Regional Bureau meeting of the CPI-Maoist, the accused had allegedly organised Elgaar Parishad to mobilise various Dalits and other organisations against the government through alleged Maoist front organisation Kabir Kala Manch.”
The two arrests take the total number of arrests in the Elgaar Parishad case to 14. Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu were arrested earlier in the same case and all are in jail now.
According to The Wire, Kabir Kala Manch activists Gorkhe and Gaichor have alleged that they’re being forced by the NIA to give confessional statements claiming they are a part of Maoist organization.
“We were forced by the NIA to give false statements that we are linked to the underground banned (CPI)- Maoist organisation. They asked us to write a confessional statement seeking forgiveness. The officials also wanted us to implicate others arrested in the case. Since we refused, the NIA is likely to arrest us,” they claimed in video they had recorded two days before the arrest.
Kabir Kala Manch is a cultural troupe from Pune that performs songs and poems about caste oppression, rationalism, resistance and revolution.
Dalit leader and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani slammed the BJP government for the “brute attack on Dalits and Left anticaste forces”, hours after two Dalit artists and anti-caste activists were arrested by the NIA in the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case.
“Just hearing about arrests of Kabir Kala Manch singers Sagar Ghorke and Ramesh Gaichor. Shocked at the madness of the Bhima Koregaon case. This is after a talented Dalit woman of the working-class, Suvarna Salve was targeted. This is a brute attack on Dalits and Left anticaste forces,” Mevani said.
“Both brilliant and exceptional Dalit singers, who come from the poorest backgrounds framed falsely,” poet Meena Kandadsamy took to Twitter to protest the arrest.