Activist Harshali Potdar arrested by Mum police for sharing social media post

Potdar was detained by the MRA marg police station, after the session court denied her anticipatory bail, on Wednesday.

Credit : Shubham Patil

Activist Harshali Potdar of Republican Panthers Jaatiantachi Chalval (Caste Annihilation Movement), who was also one of the organisers of Elgar Parishad, has been detained by the Mumbai police for allegedly sharing a communal social media post last year. She was detained by the MRA marg police station, after the session court denied her anticipatory bail, on Wednesday, by additional judge AA Nandgaonkar. She has been charged with Section 153A (1) (a) of Indian Penal Code, which pertains to promoting or attempting to promote enmity between different groups.

The case was reportedly filed against her for allegedly sharing a communal social media post written by Mohsin Shaikh, that criticised the government for targeting Tablighi Jamaat and the Muslim community for spreading Coronavirus. A Facebook post shared by the Kabir Kala Manch in this regard has alleged that Potdar has not shared any such post, and that the police have filed a fake case against her. Potdar has been questioned by the police several times before, in connection to the Elgar Parishad/Bhima Koregaon violence case.

According to the organisers of Elgar Parishad, the case is made to defame the activists in an attempt to disrupt the Elgar Parishad, which is scheduled on January 30th, 2021 at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch, Pune. Kishor Kamble, Coordinator from State Coordination Committee of Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Prerna Din, has issued a statement criticising the arrest. "On one hand, the government is protecting the culprits of the riots at Bhima Koregaon even when the evidence is available against them, while on other hand they detained the activists who are trying to protest constitutional values under false charges,” the statement read.

Before the arrest, Potdar denied the charges, stating "I have no idea why I am being arrested. I have not shared any communal posts."

Justice BG Kolse Patil, Ret., Bombay High Court, Chairman, Lokshasan Andolan, and several other organisations like People’s Voice, Lal Sena, Bhim Army, Bahujan Ekta Parishad, Republican Panthers Jati-Antachi Chalval, Kabir Kala Manch, Popular front of India, Jamat-e-Islami, Bheem Prahar Sanghatana, Bhartiya Jansangharsha Sena, Shetkari Kamgar Party, Samjwadi Party (Maharashtra and Mumbai Pradesh) have made a joint statement in support of Potdar, condemning her arrest. 

"Harshali had not shared any communal post as she is a very responsible social media user and well known for her commitment towards the Constitution. The government is unwilling to arrest the true culprits as Sambhaji Bhide and are falsely attacking our activists to hide their institutional failure. We condemn the arrest and demand her immediate release. The attempts of the government to foil the Elgar Parishad will not work this time,” the statement says.