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Maharashtra: Multiple FIRs in multiple cities against youth Nikhil Bhamre for allegedly defaming Sharad Pawar, moved around in different courts and police stations

NCP has filed several FIRs in Naupada, Nashik, Dindori, Goregaon, Pune, against Pharmacy student Nikhil Bhamre for his tweet allegedly against Shard Pawar

The counsels of the 21-year-old pharmacy student Nikhil Bhamre who was arrested in May 2022 for his social media post against Sharad Pawar are about to move court for his bail. It is notable that Nikhil Bhamre was arrested for allegedly defaming Sharad Pawar, when his social media post did not directly mention Sharad Pawar. Minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and Nationalist Congress Party leader Jitendra Awhad had asked police to take action against Nikhil Bhamre.

Now the NCP has launched an massive effort to keep the youth behind bars for a long time, as the party has filed multiple FIRs in different cities for the same alleged crime. This will mean that Bhamre will have to seek bail in each case differently, which will cost a lot of money and time.

Multiple FIRs were lodged against him at various places in the state after Jitendra Awhad incited his party workers to do so. The counsels of the youth may urge the court to club all the cases together and direct the police not to register any further cases in the same regard in order to avoid the unnecessary harassment of the youth who has no prior criminal record.

Police had detained Nikhil Bhamre from Nashik for a critical social media post made against NCP president Sharad Pawar. The youth had posted a tweet allegedly against Sharad Pawar after which NCP leader and housing minister Jitendra Awhad had demanded action against him. Nikhil Bhamre was arrested from his rented accommodation in Nashik. He is from Dindori and belongs to a farmer’s family and was living in Nashik to pursue his studies.

In his tweet, Nikhil Bhamre wrote, “It is time to create a Nathuram Godse of Baramati for a ‘Gandhi’ of Baramati. Uncle, do apologize.” It is notable that Baramati in the Pune district of Maharashtra is the hometown of Sharad Pawar. The tweet by Nikhil Bhamre was probably responding to a recent incident in which Sharad Pawar quoted poetry by Marathi poet Jawahar Rathod to make derogatory remarks against Hindu deities.

The tweet was posted by Nikhil Bhamre on 11th May 2022.

Nikhil Bhamre shared the post on Twitter on 11th May 2022. Jitendra Awhad, on 13th May 2022 posted from his Twitter handle, “At what level is it all happening… Take strict action against this perverted man.” Jitendra Awhad tagged in his tweet the official Twitter handles of the Mumbai police, the commissioner of the Mumbai police, Maharashtra’s director general of police, Pune city police, and Thane city police.

Jitendra Awhad incited NCP workers to file multiple FIRs

After this, a functionary of the NCP Party, Mr. Anand Paranjape noticed the impugned Tweet and lodged a complaint with the Police Station Naupada, Thane on 13th May 2022. Naupada Police Station, Thane registered an FIR No. 124 of 2022 on 13th May 2022 in respect of the Tweet for offenses under Sec.153, 107, and 506 IPC – Sec. 153A and 505(2) IPC were added in the FIR later. The youth was detained on the same day in Nashik and thereafter, FIR No. 165 of 2022 was registered at Dindori Police Station, Nashik District on 14th May 2022.

In the same week, Marathi actress Ketaki Chitale was also detained by Mumbai police for sharing an allegedly objectionable Facebook post against Sharad Pawar. While reacting to the posts against Sharad Pawar, on 13th May 2022, Jitendra Awhad had said, “In Maharashtra, our youth will go to at least 100-200 police stations to register offense.”

After this, a series of FIRs were filed against Nikhil Bhamre of Nashik at various places in Maharashtra for the same so-called offense under similar sections. FIR No. 57 of 2022 was registered at Goregaon Police Station, Mumbai on 14th May 2022 for offenses under Sec.153, 500, 501, 504, 505, 504, 506(2), and 34 IPC in respect of the same impugned Tweet. FIR No. 83 of 2022 was registered at Cyber Police Station, Shivajinagar, Pune on 14th May 2022 in respect of the same impugned Tweet. Similar FIRs were registered in Mawal and Dehu Road police stations.

Rounds of courts and change-overs of custody of Nikhil Bhamre

Following the multiple FIRs, Nikhil Bhamre had to go through a series of courtroom appearances and frequent change-overs of custody from one police station to another. On 15th May 2022, he was produced before the Nashik court and was sent to two days of police custody. On 17th May he was again produced in the Nashik court and this time he was given Magisterial custody of two days.

On 18th May Thane police took him into custody and then he was presented before the Thane court on 19th May 2022. The court remanded him magisterial custody and he was taken back to Nashik. On 20th May, Pune police took him into custody, and on 21st May 2022, Nikhil Bhamre was produced before Pune court where he was again sent to the police custody for two days. After two days, the Pune court granted him magisterial custody. He was then transferred to Dehu road police custody. Recently, on 2nd June 2022, Nikhil Bhamre was produced before the Mawal court in Pune Rural.

What do Nikhil Bhamre’s lawyers say?

Nikhil Bhamre’s lawyer Advocate Suresh Kolte has said, “Filing multiple FIRs for the same offense is a violation of the Supreme Court order. Troubling someone with a pure political vendetta is simply a violation of human rights.” He said that he will plead to the honorable court that the multiple FIRs are filed in an organized manner and with a mala-fide intention and with ulterior motives to harass the youth.

He also said that he will seek that the court call for the investigation papers concerning various FIRs filed at different police stations in the state against the youth under similar sections and club all of them together and further seek the directions to the police from the court that no further FIR be registered under the same offense at a different place. Besides, Advocate Suresh Kolte is also going to apply for the bail of the youth.

According to the lawyers, no case is made out against the Bhamre in respect of the Tweet and the sections of the IPC applied in the FIRs are inapplicable. They maintain that the Tweet in question cannot even remotely be construed to be promoting enmity with different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth/residence, language etc. and or as an act prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

The petition before the court will argue that the arrest and detention of the youth is illegal, arbitrary, malafide and in colourable exercise of the powers vested with the police who have not followed the mandatory guidelines of the Supreme Court in Arnesh Kumar Vs State of Bihar. They have stressed that the filing of multiple FIRs against Nikhil Bhamre, filed in an organized and synchronized manner in respect of the same alleged offence/incident/occurrence/Tweet, is mala-fide, contrary to law and a gross abuse of the process of law.

The lawyers have also mentioned that Bhamre missed his sixth semester examinations because he was arrested.

The reaction of Maharashtra state unit of BJP

Maharashtra state social media cell coordinator of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Prakash Gade said, “The BJP has taken the stand that it is anti-democratic to file cases at five or six places at the same time and not allow it to get even simple judicial help. If the justice that is being done to Nikhil today is to be done to all, then many NCP leaders will have to be booked. Scared of 21-year-old Nikhil Bhamre, Sharad Pawar has made his party workers file cases at six places. Sharad Pawar is scared of a 21-year-old boy. They are carrying out illegal activities by filing FIRs at 6 places in the same offense. If Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil does not stop this, the government will be reprimanded by the court. The dictatorial government will have to answer all this to the judiciary. The Maharashtra government is directly violating human rights. Soon this government will have to answer this in court.”

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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