In my right to speak against the political party, its leader: Elgar Parishad accused in connection with a request for release on bail
Two defendants in the 2018 Elgar Parishad case approached the special court responsible for the affairs of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), asking for bail.
The two, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe, are believed to be members of the banned Kabir Kala Manch organization. They were arrested by the NIA in 2020 and charged with sedition under the Indian Penal Code and the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly giving incendiary performances at the Elgar Parishad event held at Heart of the city of Pune, which led to the Bhima Koregaon riots in 2018.
Attorney Nihalsingh Rathod, appearing for both defendants, argued that the NIA had failed to establish a prima facie case under the strict UAPA. The charge allegation specifically against the duo was that they had performed a skit at the Elgar Parishad event, which was about ‘peshwai’ (rule of the Peshwas) against Lokshahi (democracy), and the script reportedly affected peace and quiet, âhe added. Rathod said.
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The lawyer argued that there was no evidence with the investigative agency to show that Gaichor and Gorkhe did not cooperate with the investigation in order to show the need for an arrest. He also said that an indictment had also been filed against them, that there was no reason to continue to keep them in detention in the present case.
Rathod argued that the Elgar Parishad event which was supposed to be the cause of the riots was an event organized to discuss anti-caste ideology, but somehow the prosecution claimed the event was aimed at to propagate ideas against the government.
He highlighted some of the cultural programs that were presented at Elgar Parishad where, in a skit, a woman’s monologue deals with âsamajik ladhaâ (struggle for a social cause) against casteism prevalent in society. The other speeches also only criticized a political party, the BJP, which was the party in power then and today.
âI was just saying that the party is casteist in nature. Where is the sedition in there? They say they will defend the constitution and democracy. I have the right to criticize the government. BJP-RSS is not a country. They do not constitute a nation. They took a jibe against Modi, against his policy. How is this sedition? Rathod argued.
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He further stated that the only act of violence that occurred in the entire Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon episode were the riots, which were in fact alleged against other people and that no investigation was carried out. had been opened against them. Rathod again stressed that there was nothing to qualify Elgar Parishad as a “terrorist act” or as a propagation of CPI (Maoist) ideology.
Rathod tried to deliver a copy of the parliamentary proceedings to the court, however, Judge DE Kothalikar asked, “Can the court consider anything other than the indictment while considering bail?” Rathod said there were citations in other cases to establish that it could be done.
He added: âWith the exception of the comments I have made against a political party, I criticize its political leader, I have spoken against his party and its policies and I have every right to do so and it is my duty. Other than that, there is no case that is established and I should be enlarged on bail. “
The NIA’s arguments over the bail application will be heard on December 1.