• Members of various social and political organisations staged a protest condemning the attack on CPI leader Govind Pansare.
    Members of various social and political organisations staged a protest condemning the attack on CPI leader Govind Pansare.  Pics: Anvi Mehta/iamin
  • Agitators protested against right-wing political parties, blaming them of trying to stifle the voice of social activists like Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.
    Agitators protested against right-wing political parties, blaming them of trying to stifle the voice of social activists like Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar.  
To protest against the attack on veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare and his wife Uma, groups like National Alliance of People’s Movement, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Bharat Mukti Morcha, assembled at Council Hall in Pune Cantonement area today. Raising slogans like ‘We are all Pansare’ the furious protestors condemned the incident, where the leader and his wife were shot at in Sagarmala, Kolhapur, this morning. The members of the various organisations protested against the Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis-led government, accusing them of failing to maintain the country’s democratic status.

With this incident coming to light, following the assassination of Dr Narendra Dabholkar and RTI activist Satish Shetty, the agitated crowd hit out at right-wing political parties, blaming them of trying to stifle the voice of social activists.  “After Narendra Dabholkar, it was Pansare who had a broad perspective about religion. An attack on him is an attack on the right to freedom and right to speech,” said Subhash Ware of Aam Admi Party. Bearing an uncanny similarity to the murder of Dabholkar, who was shot near Omkareshwar Bridge, on the morning of August 20, 2013, Pansare and his wife were shot by two unidentified assailants on a bike, when they were out for a morning walk. “Right to independent speech does not exist in the country anymore. Pansare brought a new meaning to the image of Shivaji to all of us and with his book, ‘Shivaji Kaun Hota’, he spread it to every household. This attack will not curb the communist movements and we will not stop. We want the government to take necessary steps to find the culprits and punish them so that another Dabholkar or Pansare is not attacked,”  said Ramesh Awasthi, leader of Maharashtra Peoples Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL).

90-year-old Shantabai Ranade (in brown saree), a freedom-fighter who had worked closely with Pansare in the past, also condemned the attack on free speech. 

Anwar Rajan, a Pune based social activist, went on to claim that  fascism started with Gandhi’s assassination and even after 67 years of democracy, it continues with the attacks on campaigners like Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. He said, “What really matters is the fact that it is just not a person who was attacked, but his progressive thoughts as well. The right to think independently and express was attacked this morning.”  Among the demonstrators was 90-year-old Shantabai Ranade, a freedom-fighter who had worked closely with Pansare in the past. “This is not why we fought for freedom. We did not fight for freedom to see a day when, the voices of our own people will stifled,” said Ranade.  Collector of Pune district, Saurabh Rao, assured the agitators that the government would ensure speedy investigation into the incident, to nab the assailants. The protestors will assemble once again on the occasion of Shivaji Jayanti on February 19, to rally against the intolerance of political parties which try to suppress the voices of social activists.