Pune: About 50 Bajrang Dal members were booked by Pune rural police for allegedly assaulting Sambhaji Brigade member Sharad Pokharkar, who is also district co-ordinator of Maratha Kranti Morcha for allegedly distributing late Govind Pansare’s book ‘Shivaji Kon Hota?’ (Who was Shivaji?) in Manchar on Sunday night. Pansare’s book makes an attempt to project Shivaji Maharaj as a secular king who was not against Muslims.
Based on a complaint by Pokharkar (39), an FIR was registered against the accused persons for assault, unlawful assembly, rioting under the Indian Penal Code. “Bajrang Dal members and right wing organisatons were upset with our work of distributing the books in schools and colleges free of cost for the last two years. On Saturday, we planned to distribute the book in Bhairavnath School in Awsari Kurd. But the school headmaster called me on Friday saying local Bajrang Dal members are opposed to the programme and hence it has been cancelled.
Later, a trustee of the school called us to organise the event on February 24, but we cancelled the programme,” said Pokharkar, who is also organiser of the Rajmata Jijau Pratishthan.
The police said Pokharkar got a threat letter on Saturday and he lodged a complaint in this regard. At 9 pm on Sunday, he got a call on his phone from Bajrang Dal members who wanted to discuss the Shiv Jayanti programme. “I asked them to come and the discussion began at my home. However, instead of Shiv Jayanti they started asking about the book distribution programme. They said the writer of the book has been killed and you will meet the same fate as Pansare. Then Rohit Dhumne and his accomplices began thrashing me and they brought me down from my flat and there were about 40 to 50 of their accomplices on the road. They assaulted me with fists and kicks. When my two colleagues tried to save me, the accused thrashed them also. At 9.40 pm, police reached there and accused persons fled but two of them were caught by the police,” Pokharkar said in his complaint.
Pokharkar and his colleagues Ganesh Bhikaji Bangar and Amol Shelar were admitted to the sub-district hospital in Manchar. Police Inspector Prakash Dhas, in-charge of Manchar police station, said, “We have sent teams to arrest other accused persons. Further investigations are on.”