Prime accused jailed for a year to prevent unrest
One died and many were injured in riots at Koregaon Bhima on the first day of 2018; (inset) cops said Phadtare was seen carrying around saffron flags, enforcing a bandh, and the administration feels he is a dangerous man who should be kept behind bars
KOREGAON BHIMA RIOTS
Now locked up in Yerwada Central Jail under MPDA Act, ex-deputy sarpanch Ganesh Phadtare has seven criminal cases filed against him, after he allegedly incited part of violence on Jan 1
In an effort to prevent a recurrence of the violence that took place at Koregaon Bhima on January 1 this year, the administration and law enforcement authorities have swung into action with a fresh arrest, amid debates about the handling of the probe into the case.
Now, riots prime accused Ganesh Phadtare has been nabbed and sent to Yerwada Central Jail by Pune rural police for the next whole year, on the directions of the district collector, who has further instructed that he be implicated under the stringent Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act.
The move is aimed at preventing any further untoward incidents during next year’s annual gathering at Koregaon Bhima, or at the Vijaystambh (victory pillar) in its vicinity, a monument commemorating a historic battle reportedly fought between the Peshwas and British alongside a Mahar contingent, holding great cultural significance for sections of the Dalit community.
The order to bag Phadtare — former deputy sarpanch of Koregaon Bhima village — was issued by district collector Naval Kishore Ram to rural police on Tuesday. This action is mainly the outcome of seven cases being registered against Phadtare even in the aftermath of the riots, with charges including criminal assault, attempt to murder and extortion, all in the Sanaswadi industrial area. Now, he will remain lodged in jail for a year as a preventive measure.
It was on January 18 this year, just over two weeks after the violence, that Phadtare was first arrested for allegedly conspiring towards and leading both the bandh at Koregaon Bhima and a protest march by villagers of Vadhu — both of which took place on the first day of 2018. Shikrapur police said Phadtare was seen leading a protest on the day of the unrest, making sure people downed shutters to enforce a bandh. As per the cops, he also compelled gram panchayats to pass a resolution to shut all shops, while marching in protest from Koregaon Bhima to Vadhu and back in a group, carrying saffron flags.
The year 2018 was the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima, due to which the annual gathering of thousands of Dalits in the region had swelled to even larger numbers — it was in these circumstances that stone-pelting and violence had broken out, in which one person died and many were injured, prompting a Maharashtra-wide bandh subsequently.
Collector Ram’s order clearly states, “Phadtare is a dangerous person, who may create law and order issues in coming days. Citing his criminal record, we emphasise that letting him roam free will be an invitation for more violations of the law in future.”
Speaking about this diktat, Shikrapur police station in-charge Sadashiv Shelar told Mirror, “Even after getting bail in this riots case, the accused committed several serious crimes, including attempt to murder, extortion, criminal assault, carrying arms, atrocities, and more. For instance, just two months ago, he threatened and extorted an industrialist to get a labour contract in the Sanaswadi industrial area. So, as per directions from the district collector, superintendent of police (SP) Pune rural Sandeep Patil instructed the Daund sub-divisional police office to submit a report about Phadtare’s criminal activities. We gathered the data and submitted it, and on its scrutiny, the collector issued orders to implicate Phadtare under the MPDA Act. Thereby, he has been confined and will remain behind bars for the next one year.”
Shelar added that police have also appealed to the public to come forward with knowledge of any other such activities Phadtare may have committed.
Courtesy: Pune Mirror, Oct 11, 2018