On 1 September 2014, officials of ATS, Pune arrested two social activists viz. Arun Bhelake and Kanchan Nanavare as suspected naxalites in Pune. They were given third degree treatment and made to issue a statement.
This statement, according to civil rights groups and social activists, was used by ATS to “implicate other progressive social activists in this alleged arrest case.” And based on this statements, the activists say, the Bharatiya Republican Paksha Bahujan Mahasangha’s Govandi Corporator Hon. Shri. Arun Kamble, Republican Panther’s Jaatiant Movement’s State President Sharad Gaikwad, Rahul Seva Mandal’s President Shankar Patil, Kabir Kalamach’s Rupali Jadhav from Pune and mass movement’s key members from Pune are being summoned to the ATS office in Pune for “enquiry”.
“They are made to sit at the office for the entire day after which their statements are recorded. They are being called to the ATS office multiple times for interrogation and the same questions are repeated, again and again. While a person is expected to cooperate with the authorities for an enquiry for a legitimate case, but ordering them to come to Pune every now and then, under the pretext of enquiry and making them confess as per incorrect statements under coercion can be considered as mental harassment of activists in Maharashtra.”
“These activists are being asked to disclose name, address and contact details of other members from the above mentioned organisations. Some of persons are names who are not even remotely connected with this case nor have any summons been issued or pending against them. This act of ATS is an attempt to intimidate the members of these organisations and members of civil society.”
Harassment of Sudhir Dhawale
“On 15 May 2014, after 40 months, Gondia Session Court acquitted Sudhir Dhawale, the Editor of Vidrohi (a bimonthly magazine) and member of Republic Panthers, however, the police continues to harass him. On the 28 September, the police entered his Govandi residence and conducted a search without any warrant nor summons. After which they interrogated him. The police bundled him into a van and escorted him to Deonar police station; they confiscated his mobile phone. After which Dhawale was made to give a written statement and mentally harassed him.”
“This constant harassment of members of these organisations and senior social activists by the police, under the pretext of alleged enquiry must be vehemently protested by all progressive thinkers, intellectuals, artists and social organisations,” say the activists.
“Elections are conducted regularly, and our votes are meant to change governments. This gives us the illusion of a democratic country. However, we can see an invisible emergency-like situation which is prevalent. It is an absurd situation where our country’s Constitution confers the freedom of expression on us but the reality is, there is suppression of expression. Not just that citizens are systematically harassed by the police for adhering to a particular ideology.”
The undersigned activists have demanded that the:
- Definition of Terrorism should be clarified post 9/11
- Intimidation of social activists by the police should cease, immediately
- Mental harassment of members must be stopped, immediately
- We must have the right to raise our voice against anti-democratic elements
Retired Supreme Court Judge Hon. Shri P B Savant, Retired Bombay High Court Judge Hon. Shri B G Kolse Patil, Former Home State Minister Bhai Vaidya, Prof N D Patil, Senior Leader, Prof. Pushpa Bhave, Writer, Hon. Shri. Balasaheb aka Prakash Ambedkar, Prof. Anand Teltumbade, Writer, Com.Govind Pansare, CPI-Leader, Ramu Ramanathan, Playwright, J V Pawar, Writer, Urmila Pawar, Writer, Jatin Desai, Journalist, Hon. Shri .Suresh Hosbet (Retired Bombay High Court Judge), Suresh Khopade, Ex-Police Officer, Bri. Sudhir Sawant, Usha Umbhore, Shahir Sambhaji Bhagat, Sushama Deshpande, Theatre practitioner, Sumedh Jadhav, Social Activist, Teesta Setalvad, Human Rights Activist, Sudhanva Deshpande, Actor, Manisha Gupte, Prof. Ramesh Kamble, Mumbai University, Medha Patkar, Leader, NAPM.