Cultural activists Sagar Gorke and Ramesh Gaichor, who are members of the ‘Kabir Kala Manch’, were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Elgar Parishad case on Monday.
The Wire’s Sukanya Shantha reports that the two had been named in the original FIR filed by the Pune police in January 2018.
A Mumbai court sent Gorkhe and Gaichor to NIA custody till September 11 on Tuesday. The agency, meanwhile arrested Kabir Kala Manch member Jyoti Jagtap, taking the total arrests in the case to 15, Sadaf Modak reported for Indian Express.
In July, the NIA had arrested Delhi University Professor Hany Babu.
Gorkhe and Gaichor had recorded a video on September 5 in which they alleged the NIA was forcing them to give statements implicating those arrested in the case. The two said that they had been threatened with arrest if they did not agree to be witnesses.
The Wire quoted them as saying, “The officials also wanted us to implicate others arrested in the case. Since we refused, the NIA is likely to arrest us.”
“We were called for questioning 1.5 months ago, we were interrogated for 2 days, we cooperated, gave them statements, we were released. After 1.5 months, they called us again with some urgency, and from 11 am to 5.30 pm they sat with us, told us that you have links with Naxalwadi party, you have met them, you have been to Gadchiroli – if you admit these things, we will release you, if not we will arrest you,” Gaichor said in the video, according to Scroll’s translation.
Gorke and Gaichor said the NIA attempted for force them “to confess to things we have never been involved in and would late use it against everyone arrested in the case and declare the entire Elgar Parishad event as a Maoist event.”
“We aren’t progenies of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar but are children of BR Ambedkar. If you ask us to give false statements against people who have surrendered, we refuse. Today they have called us to Pune, where there are chances that they will arrest us,” the said in the video.
Their arrest comes days after IISER-Kolkata professor Partho Sarathi Ray as well as Dalit scholar and activist K Satyanarayana and journalist KV Kumarnath, both sons-in-law of Varavara Rao, said the NIA’s summons for questioning in the case was causing them distress.
The investigation into the case has been criticised by rights groups and activists for using it to harass intellectuals and human rights activists in the country.