Maharashtra government persecuting defenders of Dalits: CPI-M

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) The CPI-M on Thursday accused Maharashtra’s BJP government of persecuting those who were “engaged in defending the victims” of the Bhima-Koregaon violence, and urged all “democratic-minded people” to protest against such “highhanded actions” of the government.

“The Politbureau of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) expresses its strong disapproval over the manner in which the Maharashtra government and its police is dealing with the aftermath of the widespread violence against large sections of the Dalit population who had congregated in Bhima-Koregaon to commemorate the anniversary of the battle which was started to be observed by B.R. Ambedkar himself,” the CPI-M said in a statement.

The Left party said that it was “reprehensible” that instead of booking the “culprits who perpetrated the violence in Bhima-Koregaon” and pursuing the perpetrators, the BJP-led state government was “unleashing steps towards persecuting those who are engaged in defending the victims including the invoking of UAPA”.

Violence had erupted in Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra on January 1 this year as thousands of Dalits gathered there to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the victory of the Mahar regiment over the Peshwas. One person died in the violence and several were injured.

The Pune Police on Wednesday arrested six people including activists and a lawyer in connection with the violence. Those arrested from Delhi, Mumbai and Nagpur are activists Rona Wilson, Rana Jacob, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and lawyer Surendra Gadling.

While Dhawale is the editor of fortnightly magazine “Vidrohi”, Gadling is an advocate who has represented former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, among others, in the court.

According to reports, the police have booked them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

“The Politbureau appeals to all democratic minded people who cherish justice to protest such highhanded actions of the government as this will lead to further alienation of those suffering injustices and now to suffer from the government’s clear double-standards,” the CPI-M added.

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