5 Activists Arrested for Bhima Koregaon Violence, Citizens Protest

“The BJP has a blacklist of people who question their activity. They are targeted and trolled,” says one protester.

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Over 35 different Dalit and human rights groups came together at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on Thursday, 7 June, to protest the arrest of five human rights activists from Pune, Nagpur, and New Delhi.

Professor Shoma Sen, advocate Surendra Gadling, cultural activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights activist Rona Wilson, and anti-displacement activist Mahesh Raut were arrested from different locations in Nagpur, Bombay and Delhi by the Maharashtra Police, in the wee hours of 6 June.

The BJP government has a long list of people. A kind of blacklist. They put people who question their activity, or their inactivity, on this list and they target them.
Kiran Shaheen, Writer 
“The BJP has a blacklist of people who question their activity. They are targeted and trolled,” says one protester.
Citizens gather to protest the arrest of five prominent human rights activists.
(Photo: Vishnu Gopinath/The Quint)

The five were arrested under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for inciting violence and communal enmity, leading to the Bhima Koregaon protests and violence in January 2018.


Dhawale was the only one named in the initial FIR, but the FIR was changed and the names of the four others were added later, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vice-President, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers told The Quint.

This is how the government silences those who question them. These are some of the few who speak out for minority groups. The government is dividing minorities even further by pitting them against the ones who are speaking in their support. 
Sudha Bharadwaj, Vice-President, IAPL

The groups gathered at Jantar Mantar also stated that this was an attempt to take the spotlight away from the people who were initially charged for inciting the violence, right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide.

  • Citizens gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to protest the arrest of five human rights activists.

    (Photo: Vishnu Gopinath/ The Quint)

The Arrested Activists

The five people who have been arrested are prominent Dalit rights activists who have taken several anti-establishment stances in the past.


Sudhir Dhawale is the editor of Vidrohi, a radical political magazine that is often critical of the state’s anti-Dalit, anti-tribal, and oppressive policies.

Surinder Gadling is a human rights lawyer from Nagpur who has handled a number of cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Shoma Sen is a professor at Nagpur University and a prominent member of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).

Mahesh Raut is a human rights activist who has handled several cases of human rights violations against Dalits and tribals in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region.

Rona Wilson is a member of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners, which is based out of Delhi.

We have arrested five people in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence. All five have close Maoist links and prima facie, their involvement is being seen in the matter. We are ascertaining if they had incited the violence.
A senior police officer from Pune in a statement to The Wire

Protesters at Jantar Mantar demanded immediate and unconditional release of the five activists, who are still in police custody.

(With inputs from The Wire)

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