Kabir Kala Manch Activist Jyoti Jagtap Arrested by NIA

Kabir Kala Manch stands strongly against caste and communalism and represents Bahujan's resistance to state repression, violence, and inequality.

Jyoti Jagtap
Courtesy: Kabir Kala Manch (Twitter)

Jyoti Jagtap, an anti-caste cultural activist associated with Kabir Kala Manch, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on September 8. Jyoti Jagtap was arrested a day after the arrest of Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, who were both arrested on September 7 after days of questioning.

The arrest was in relation to the Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon case. Jyoti Jagtap, along with Gorkhe and Gaichor, was amongst the organizers of the event held at Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017, a day before the commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, where Mahar soldiers of the British Army defeated the Peshwa army in battle in 1818. They had organized the event under the banner of ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerana Abhiyan’.

The Elgar Parishad event was held in Pune’s Shaniwarwada area, a symbol of Peshwa rule and a historically Brahmin dominated area. To The Wire, Gorkhe and Gaichor said that in spite of upper-caste resistance to the event, the support of Ambedkar-loving people made it possible. An FIR was filed in which the three of them had been named by a Pune-based realtor named Tushar Damgude for making ‘inflammatory speeches’.

Sukanya Shantha of The Wire has reported that the NIA has accused Kabir Kala Manch of being a frontal organization of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Gorkhe and Gaichor have been handed over to NIA custody where they will remain until September 11. Jagtap, who is in custody, will be produced at the NIA court on September 9. The NIA has accused them of undergoing “weapon and explosive training and awareness programmes on various topics related to the Maoist movement” and has said that KKM is a frontal organization through which the CPI(Maoist) has been inciting violence.

The targeting of a group like Kabir Kala Manch has for years been in the agendas of those in power. In 2013, Kabir Kala Manch artists were accused of being Maoists and arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad. They were granted bail by the Supreme Court in 2017.

Kabir Kala Manch stands strongly against caste and communalism and represents Bahujan’s resistance to state repression, violence, and inequality.

The arrest of Jyoti Jagtap now makes fifteen people arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, all of whom have been powerful voices of dissent and tirelessly fought for the interests of the oppressed. Most recently being Prof Hany Babu. Meanwhile, many others have been summoned for interrogation, including anti-caste scholar Prof. K Satyanarayana, senior journalist K.V. Kurmanath, and IISER scientist Partho Sarothi Ray.

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