Pune, January 17, 2016: Hundreds of citizens including political parties members came out in full support of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Bhanupratap Barge, in-charge of Pune unit of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), during a silent protest against terrorism on Sunday.
Few days back letters were received purportedly from notorious terrorist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatening to kill ACP Barge and his family members.
Barge has vast experience of dealing with underworld criminals in Mumbai and goons in Pune. For the last two years he has been posted with the counter-terrorism police unit. In the last two months he has traced a Hindu youth who was converted to Islam and being radicalised, a 16-year-old Muslim girl who was radicalised by ISIS and another Muslim man from Mumbai who had gone missing after his friend reportedly joined the ISIS. Barge played active role in de-radicalising these persons.
Over the last one year Barge has launched several initiatives to break the back of terrorism. He has networked with thousands of college going youths under ‘Me anti-terrorist’ program. He has good following among the Muslim community after he held several outreach programs and assured them that no innocent Muslim youth will be arrested on charges of terrorism.
On Sunday morning hundreds of people gathered at the famous Jhansi Rani chowk opposite Balgandharv auditorium on Jangli Maharaj Road, carrying Indian national flag and banners with ACP Barge photo for the silent protest march against terrorism. They walked 1.5 km till Veer Savarakar memorial on Karve Road.
BJP’s Sandeep Khardekar and MNS’s Prashant Kanojiya took the lead in organising the protest march to convey message that ACP Barge is not alone in fight against terrorism. “People of India from all faiths support him,” was the message the rally conveyed.
Leaders who were present included Member of Parliament (MP) Vandana Chavan from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs Madhuri Misal, Medha Kulkarni, Jagdish Mullik, Congress city president Abhay Chhajed, Mohan Joshi, Republican Party of India (RPI) city president Mahendra Kamble, Shiv Sena city president Vinayak Nimhan, corporators Dipak Mankar, Balasaheb Bodke, Mansi Deshpande, Mukta Tilak, Manisha Chorbele, Datta Khade, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Kishore Shinde, Ravindra Dhangekar, Sushila Netke, Pushpatai Kanojiya, Balasaheb Shedge, Raju Pawar, education committee member Manjushri Khardekar, and Ravi Chaudhary.
Various other organisations and social workers including Amol Buchde, Ganesh Ghosh, Saddam Shaikh, Iqbal Shaikh, Baba Shaikh, Kadar Shaikh, Mehboob Shaikh, Pankaj Kale, Umesh Bhelke, Rishikesh Kumbre, Gajanan Tharkude, Rajes Palaskar, Jairaj Landge, Dilipsingh Vishwakarma, Baba Chaukse, Shyam Marne, Suresh Jain, Sitaram Khade, Manoj Nair, Swapnil Naik, Dinesh Bhillare, Vishwajit Deshpande, Anand Dave, Nana Patil.
The unidentified sender of the so called threat letter claimed to be the Islamic State Representative for India and threatened to target ATS offices in Pune and Mumbai. Since then security has been beefed up at the both the offices.
The letter further said that ACP Barge has been disturbing Islamic State and misleading Muslim youths.
Police officials investigating the case have told Punekar News that somebody is playing mischief. “The fate will be decided on who fires the first bullet,” was all an ATS officer said when asked about Barge’s state of mind, implying that they are prepared to counter any eventuality.
Though Barge refused to comment on this letter, while speaking at a function in Muslim-dominated Kondhwa area of Pune, Barge had said that ATS has launched Jihad, Jihad Al-Akbar (greatest Jihad: Combat with the Self). Over 600 Muslims had gathered to listen to him on January 2 program.