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Words like ‘achhe din’ used at Elgar Parishad to stoke hate: What HC said in Jagtap bail denial

Referring to a play staged at 2017 Elgar Parishad event and alleged links with CPI (Maoist), Bombay HC Monday denied bail to Jyoti Jagtap, one of the accused in Bhima Koregaon case.

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New Delhi: Words and phrases used by the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) during the Elgar Parishad event held in Pune on 31 December 2017 — such as ‘achhe din, demonetisation, gomutra, RSS dress/ outfit, Ram Mandir, “atrocities on Dalits in today’s India”’ — sought to “overthrow” and “ridicule” the government, the Bombay High Court said Monday.

The observations were made by a bench comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and Milind N. Jadhav while denying bail to Jyoti Jagtap, one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case and a member of the KKM, a Pune-based cultural organisation that was one of the groups that organised the Elgar Parishad.

Held at Pune’s Shaniwar Wada Fort on 31 December 2017, Elgar Parishad was a commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima. Following the event on 1 January 2018, violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon. In the months that followed a group of people allegedly linked to the event were arrested under UAPA.

Jagtap, one of 16 people accused in the case, was arrested on 8 September 2020. After the trial court denied her bail in February 2022, she approached the high court.

Denying her bail, the high court Monday referred to alleged links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), saying that the Elgar Parishad event was “a smaller conspiracy within the larger design and conspiracy of the CPI (Maoist) to further its agenda”.

“The entire material produced before us by NIA clearly shows that the Elgar Parishad event was used and organised to establish underground contact with the banned terrorist organisation CPI(Maoist) through its activists which include the appellant. It is seen that pursuant to the said programme, there was large-scale violence resulting in unrest and death of one person,” it said.

The court went through the transcript of a stage play enacted by KKM members during the event. This transcript also forms part of the chargesheet. The court felt that the role played by KKM activists was not only “aggressive”, but also “highly provocative and clearly designed to incite hatred and ignite passion”.

It referred to several phrases used in the transcript, which, it asserted, “are pointed directly against the democratically elected government, seeking to overthrow the government and ridicule the government”.

These phrases included ‘achhe din, gomutra, RSS dress/ outfit, demonetisation, Ram Mandir’, and statements such as “Constitution is not the highest document, but according to Golwalkar Guruji it is Manusmruti”, “behaviour and atrocities of Peshwas towards Dalits”, “treatment and nomenclature of Dalit women by Peshwas”, and “atrocities on Dalits in today’s India”.

Referring to these phrases, the court said, “KKM admittedly performed and incited hatred and passion by performing on the above agenda in the Elgar Parishad event. There is thus definitely a larger conspiracy within the Elgar Parishad conspiracy by KKM and CPI(Maoist).”

Also Read: Report ‘links’ Pune Police to hacking campaign that ‘planted evidence’ on Bhima Koregaon suspects

‘Actively involved’

In its judgment, the High Court referred to the material available on record and said that Jagtap was “in active touch with all other co-accused working for different mask organisations to further the objectives of CPI (Maoist)”.

It then opined that there were “reasonable grounds for believing the allegations/accusation of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against appellant having conspired, attempted, advocated and abated the commission of a terrorist act as prima facie true”.

It also referred to witness statements to establish Jagtap’s association with the CPI(Maoist). The court relied on a copy of the accounts of the Elgar Parishad event recovered from her home. This document had a detailed account of the income and expenditure of the event from October 2016.

Referring to this, the court asserted that “her role in organising the Elgar Parishad event was much more and she was actively involved in the same since she maintained the entire income and expenditure account of the event.”

The court extensively relied on its judgment passed on 19 September denying bail to another of the accused, Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu. The court referred to documents recovered from Babu, saying that these “highlight the role of the CPI(Maoist) in attempting to destabilise our country by carrying out killings methodically and engaging in armed conflict”.

The bench then said that these documents “clearly highlight” Jagtap’s “active role” in organising the Elgar Parishad event, and her association with prominent members of the CPI(Maoist).

The court, therefore, rejected her bail plea, due to “seriousness of the conspiracy and the threat that it poses”.

(Edited by Theres Sudeep)

Also Read: ‘Wage war on terrorism but follow procedure’: What HC said as it quashed GN Saibaba’s conviction


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