Free Bhima Koregaon activists: Congress MP

New Delhi: Congress MP Kumar Ketkar has demanded that the new Maharashtra government withdraw the case slapped on five human rights activists for allegedly inciting violence at Koregaon Bhima village in Pune on January 1 last year.

The activists were dubbed as ‘Urban Maoists’ and accused of even hatching a conspiracy to eliminate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In an interview to this paper on Tuesday, Ketkar said the whole case was fabricated by the Pune police under pressure from BJP President Amit Shah and then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The Pune police had raided homes of prominent activists in several states and arrested five of them for suspected Maoist links.

Those arrested were journalist-activist Gautam Navalakha, advocate Sudha Bhardwaj, Telugu poet Varavara Rao and Mumbai-based activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira.

They were accused of inciting the people at an event called ‘Elgar Parishad’ or conclave on Dec 31, 2017, leading to violence the next day at Koregaon Bhima village.

Ketkar, a member of the Upper House, hoped that the Congress ministers in the Uddhav Thackeray government would pursue the release of all five activists at the earliest and the known pro-RSS activists involved in the violence be arrested as they enjoyed protection of then Fadnavis government.

Ketkar said Uddhav Thackeray does not have administrative and legislative experience that are crucial to run the government, but more important is his ability as a team leader to comprehend issues and patience to resolve emerging conflicts.

He said Uddhav tackled many a crisis, including rebellion by Nararayan Rane. He noted Uddhav also played cool without worrying on reports of many leaders of Sena succumbing to Amit Shah’s pressure tactic

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