Written by: Shubham B Jha (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
Bombay High Court has sent a notice to the National Investigation Agency and directed it for a reply on the Bail Plea of one of the accused of the Bhima Koregaon violence, Mr. Stan Swamy who is a priest at one of the local churches in Ranchi. Another activist Mr. Varvara Rao, a poet from Telangana has finally been granted bail after filing a number of such applications to the court. Both activists, along with a number of others are accused of planning, incitement and execution of Bhima Koregaon riots of 2018 under the highly debated legislation, the UAPA. They are suspected to have links to the Maoists. They are also accused of planning the assassination of the current Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi.
Bhima-Koregaon is a small village in Pune district of the state of Maharashtra. It has a historical significance to it. There was a war between the British army mostly consisting of dalits and the Maratha Peshwa Army, which was led by Peshwa Bajirao II, in the year 1818. The British armies of dalits were able to secure a victory for themselves over the Peshwas. It was considered a huge victory for the dalits who were discriminated against by the Peshwas. The British installed a Vijay Stambh in order to commemorate those who fought and won against the Peshwas for them.
The pillar has attained a significant stature for dalits in the area. They gather every year on 1 st January at the pillar to pay their respect. The year 2018 marked the 200 th anniversary of the victory which is why a huge celebration was impending. Justice B.G Kolse Patil and Justice P.B Sawant organized the conference that year.
The Govind Gopal Mahar statue was found desecrated on 29 th December, 2018. The atmosphere around the event started to become tense when, according to the police, inflammatory speeches were made against the upper castes in the area. Such speeches were made on 31 st December 2018 when the dalits had organized Elgar-Parishad, a conference to honor the men behind the battle.
The beginning of the New Year on 1 st January, 2018 drew a large number of bahujan groups together in Bhima Koregaon. The group was met with violence by neighboring villagers who threw stones at the crowd. This resulted in a protest by the dalits across Pune. The violence on 1 st January killed at least one person and injured at least 5.
The police filed F.I.R against Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote who were the local leaders from the area, the F.I.R accused them of instigating violence against Dalits in the area. Milind Ekbote was later arrested and his interim bail plea was denied by the court.
The Maharashtra Police in later raids across the country, in August 2018, arrested activists including Rona Wilson, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Varwara Rao. They were accused of having links with the Maoists along with the planning and funding of the Elgar Parishad conference. Some letters were also found in the personal laptop of Mrs. Rona Wilson which indicated that there was a plan to assassinate the current incumbent Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. However, such letters have now been refuted by the side of the activist, an independent report claimed that Mr. Wilson’s laptop had a malware which resulted in the presence of such letters by an unknown entity over the course of 22 months. Such a report is refuted by the NIA.
The case was transferred to NIA in the year 2020 after which several other activists were arrested including Mr. Stan Swamy. The case is still being heard in the Bombay High Court. Activists Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen recently filed pleas to quash the sanctions made against them and the other activists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Bombay High Court has directed the government at the state to reply to the pleas made by the said activists. The next date of hearing in the said case is scheduled on June 16.