Bhima Koregaon: “Most of arrested were not even present at meeting organised by me,” says Justice B.G. Kolse Patil

Retired judge B.G. Kolse Patil, one of the organisers of Elgar Parishad in Bhima Koregaon on December 31, 2017, said most of those arrested in the case were not even present at the Elgar Parishad organised by himself and Justice P. B. Sawant.

“We do not even know many of them. If any, action ought to be taken against the organisers but ironically, political dissenters are being intimidated and targeted,” he said while presiding over an event in Bengaluru on Friday to mark 1818 Battle of Bhima Koregaon.

The event was organized by a coalition of Dalit and human rights groups in the city.

Kolse Patil alleged that the entire case was a “conspiracy by right-wing forces to suppress dissent.”

Patil also demanded immediate release of 16 arrested in Bhima Koregaon case.

“I am very clear that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the fountainhead of Hindutva, is enemy number one for a secular and just India. It is difficult to win this battle against right-wing forces if we fight in the electoral fray alone. We need to ideologically challenge them. We need to set aside all identity markers and unite to fight for Roti-Kapda-Makaan and Shiksha-Arogya issues,” Patil said.

A total of 16 people have been arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case so far. In 2018, as part of a massive crackdown on human rights defenders in India, 9 prominent activists– Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao were arrested by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case. Two years later, the crackdown on human rights defenders continues with the arrests of Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap, and Stan Swamy.