Pune, 5th February 2024: Twelve members of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), found themselves in legal trouble as the Chatushrungi police booked them late on Saturday night. The charges include unlawful assembly, criminal trespass, and rioting in connection with a protest that unfolded at the Lalit Kala Kendra of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) around 4:45 pm on the same day.
In a parallel development, Pune’s additional commissioner of police took decisive action, issuing an order to suspend a police sub-inspector. The suspension is pending a departmental inquiry into the officer’s alleged dereliction of duty. The sub-inspector reportedly failed to promptly inform senior authorities about the unfolding situation at Lalit Kala Kendra on Saturday evening, despite being present at the scene.
On Sunday, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing affiliated with the BJP, organized a morcha to the SPPU campus. However, their progress was halted at the main entrance, where a substantial police presence was deployed. Authorities prevented the protestors from entering the campus to avert any potential incidents. Instead, senior university officials were brought to the entrance gate to receive a representation from the protestors, who subsequently left the location.
The turmoil began on Saturday night when SPPU’s security officer, Jagannath Kharmate (58), lodged a complaint regarding vandalism. Protestors allegedly threw ink on department boards, windows, and earthen pots, while also breaking glass covers of notice boards. The demonstration was in response to what the protestors deemed “objectionable dialogues” spoken during a play at the Kendra’s amphitheatre on Friday evening, based on the lives of actors in Ramleela.
A case had already been registered on Saturday evening against the professor and head of the Lalit Kala Kendra department, along with five students, for hurting religious sentiments, assault, and rioting. They were subsequently arrested and released on bail granted by a city court.
Senior inspector Balaji Pandhare of the Chatushrungi police explained, “We registered the case against BJYM members based on a specific complaint by the SPPU representative about the damage and defacement of property caused by the protestors. We summoned them to the police station on Sunday morning and served notices, asking them to cooperate with our investigations. The BJYM members are not students of SPPU, and yet, they entered the department’s building and damaged public property. Hence, we have invoked charges of criminal trespass against them. We have taken photographs of the department where the ink was thrown and have evidence of how the property was damaged.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IV) Vijay Magar added, “The university authorities are yet to approach us with their complaint against the ABVP members, who, on Friday evening, got into an argument with the SPPU students after which a riot took place on the amphitheatre stage. Right now, a case of criminal trespass, rioting, mischief, and unlawful assembly is pertaining to Saturday’s agitation by the BJYM.”