On 7th April 2022, Kashmiri Hindu activist Rohit Kachroo was illegally detained by Maharashtra police when he visited a police station in Pune to seek permission to peacefully question a talk by a propagandist. Yuvak Kranti Dal led by 80-year-old Kumar Saptarshi has organized a talk by Ashok Kumar Pandey on the topic ‘The Kashmir files: A Half Truth’ at Gandhi Bhavan situated in the Kothrud area of Pune.
Rohit Kachroo decided to attend the program and ask some questions to Pandey after his talk. In order not to appear as an intruder, he felt it necessary to get the help of the Pune police to get a safe presence in the program and seek permission to question the speaker as to what exactly did he find to be not true in the film The Kashmir Files. But instead of helping Rohit Kachroo, the Pune police illegally detained him for a few hours and then released him only after handing over a notice that holds him responsible if any unsolicited incident occurs after he attends the program.
Rohit Kachroo narrates the incident
While speaking to OpIndia, Rohit said, “Today I visited the Kothrud police station in Pune with an application. A program is organized in Pune where a speaker Ashok Kumar Pandey will be speaking on the topic ”The Kashmir files: A Half Truth’. I felt it necessary that the Pune police must know in advance that we are going to attend that program and we must not be seen as some intruder there. We are Kashmiri Hindus. When the program heads into the question and answer session after the talk is delivered, at that time we want to ask the speaker and the organizer what exactly did they find to be untrue in the film ‘The Kashmir Files’? If the film is half true then please answer our question.”
He further said, “So we gave an application to the police. We told the police that if you feel like a law and order situation may arise there, then please cancel the program. And if they can’t cancel the program citing freedom of expression then allow us to attend the program and peacefully ask them a question because we also have freedom of expression. We told the police that we are here just to inform you of all these things.”
Informing about the detention, Rohit Kachroo said, “From 11 AM, the police detained us. They kept us in a small chowki made in the backyard of the main premises of the Kothrud police station. We asked for a written notice so many times but they did not provide any notice till 5:30 PM. We asked them to at least put a received stamp on our application, but they refused to do so. It is my right to know why I am being detained and on what charges. This should not happen with anyone who is willing to express himself in a civilized manner that too giving an idea to the police department in advance. Otherwise, people will directly go anywhere and do whatever they want.”
He further said, “I was accompanied by two of my friends. I was advised to just drop an application at the CP office and go to the program. But I thought the local police station must be informed. Because if we don’t follow the law of the land, then who else will? Such bad treatment should not be given to a law-abiding citizen. I could have directly gone to the program and asked them my questions, but I felt it necessary to seek the help of the police because I too come from a law-enforcement agency background. I know what is the proper way to put up the things. But unfortunately, this happened to me.”
Rohit Kachroo was handed over a notice by the Pune police. The notice is given as per section 149 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The notice said, “You have applied for the cancellation of the ‘Kashmir Files – Ek Ardh Satya’ program to be held at Gandhi Bhavan in Kothrud police station limits to maintain peace and order. At present, the subject of the film ‘The Kashmiri Files’ is sensitive in the country. Therefore, there is a possibility of a law and order problem if you go to the venue of the ‘Kashmir Files A Ardh Satya’ event to be held at Gandhi Bhavan and take any action. However, you are hereby advised that you should not go to the venue of this event. If you go there and a law and order problem arises, it should be noted that action will be taken against you under the prevailing law, holding you solely responsible for it.”
Pune’s mayor expressed his concern for Rohit Kachroo
Muralidhar Mohol is the mayor of Pune. He tweeted, “It was shocking that Kashmiri Pandit Rohit Kachroo and colleagues, who had gone to the Kothrud police station to seek permission for the agitation to protest against ‘The Kashmir Files Ardh Satya’ program, were made to sit in the police station.”
काश्मिरी पंडित युवकांची सुटका…— Murlidhar Mohol (@mohol_murlidhar) April 7, 2022
‘द काश्मिर फाईल्स एक अर्धसत्य’ या कार्यक्रमाला विरोध दर्शवण्यासाठी आंदोलनाची परवानगी मागायला कोथरुड पोलीस स्टेशनमध्ये गेलेल्या काश्मिरी पंडित @RohitInExile आणि सहकाऱ्यांना पोलीस ठाण्यातच बसवून ठेवल्याचा धक्कादायक प्रकार घडला.@TajinderBagga pic.twitter.com/skMmFpwyBU
Police offered to facilitate a personal meeting of Rohit Kachroo with the organizers of the event
Rohit Kachroo told OpIndia that the police officials, at one point in time, were ready to facilitate a meeting with the organizers of the program in presence of the police officials if it was so important. He said, “The police said, we will come with you and you meet the organizers in personal capacities. We are suggesting this for your safety. I said I will not meet them personally because they are taking a program in the public domain. They are saying something publicly. They are saying that The Kashmir Files is a half-truth. They are claiming that they are speaking the truth. So, someone who is speaking the truth in a public event should welcome someone else publicly. Why I should meet him in private? So, I rejected this offer.”
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s film The Kashmir Files is based on the true incidents related to the genocide of the Kashmiri Hindus by Islamic terrorists in 1990 and the subsequent exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley. The film has attracted large crowds to the theatres and brought the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits to the mainstream.