What was Elgar Parishad and does it have any connection with banned outfit CPI (Maoist)?
Elgar Parishad, which was held on December 31, 2017, had no connection whatsoever with the violence that erupted at Koregaon-Bhima on January 1 nor it has any connection with any kind of Naxalite movement or Maoist movement. It was a simple event, which witnessed speeches made by various speakers on the violations done by the current regime, which doesn’t believe in the Constitution. This was not the first time that we have celebrated such an event. On October 4, 2015, we organised a similar conference at the same venue of Shaniwarwada under the auspices of Desh Bachao Aghadi with the topic of save the Constitution, save nation. Even the people, who gathered at Elgar Parishad, were those that were supposed to march to Koregaon-Bhima to pay their homage the next day. These people assembled a day before in Pune and came to Elgar Parishad to listen to the speeches. Besides this, there is no connection between Elgar Parishad and Koregaon-Bhima.
What do you have to say about the allegations made by the police that Elgar Parishad was funded by Maoists?
Police are making much ado about the expenses in organising Elgar Parishad, from where the expenses have come. There is no funding from any kind of group. We had received a readymade platform for the event as an educational institute was supposed to hold a function there on the next day and had prepared the stage, chairs as well as pandal. They had booked the venue for 1st and had requested us to allow them to set up their arrangements on 31st and also allowed us to use that, as it would have become difficult for them to make the setup for their programme on January 1. Police know very well about it but at the instance of the government, they are making these allegations.
Why were these arrests made by the police in connection with Elgar Parishad case?
The government has found that there is all-round discontent against them. Not a single promise they made has been fulfilled. In spite of this, they are still making false promises. They are trying to paint a picture that many things have happened and many things are going to happen. They are virtually trying to fool the people. They have fooled people for the last four years but now people have realised it, as no one can fool the people all the time. In order to divert the attention of people from their failures, they have started this.
What is the opinion about the violence, which erupted in Koregaon-Bhima on January 1?
In Koregaon-Bhima, the people who went there to pay homage to the memorial carried out a peaceful procession, but they were attacked with stones. I have been informed that the attackers had collected stones on the roofs of houses and pelted them on people in the procession. However, the main culprits, who organised these attacks, were well aware of this annual event and in order to create a rift between the two castes, they orchestrated this event but were never arrested.