Pune: Elgar Parishad conducted an event at Shaniwarwada on December 31, 2017, which was in the eye of a storm for sometime and has now grabbed the attention of police authorities after two of its speakers, Jignesh Mewani and Umar Khalid, have been booked for delivering provocative speeches and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, besides acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
A high-ranking IPS official posted in Mumbai, requesting anonymity, said, “Why was permission given to Elgar Parishad for the event? There are organisations in the committee, which have been booked in the past for criminal activities and alleged Naxal links. The date of the event, December 31, a day prior to the commemoration day of the Koregaon-Bhima Battle, and the venue, speaks a lots about their intentions. Police cannot say ‘no’ to the organisers, but they could have advised a different venue or date in their discretion.”
It is significant to note that in order to garner support of people at Shaniwarwada on December 31 and to mark the commemoration at the Koragon-Bhima memorial, more than 250 organisations had conducted meetings in 17 districts around the State.
The meetings were conducted at cities like Nashik, Malegaon, Khairlanji, Nagpur and other parts of the State. A march was also conducted from Nashik to Pune from December 23 to December 31.
The 250 organisations conducted the meetings in 17 districts of the State under the banner of Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna and was headed by retired justice PB Sawant.
When Sawant was questioned about controversies related to the event, including the riots, he said, “All non-Manuwadi organisations got together to oppose the current regime in the country. Youngsters went to different districts and appealed to people to come together to oppose the current regime, which is ruling like the Peshwai. The youngsters in the committee were working from the last four months and asked people to come to the 200th anniversary of Koregaon-Bhima.”
“It’s unfortunate that riots have erupted and a young man has died. A proper investigation should be conducted and the guilty should be punished,” Sawant further added.
Suresh Khairnar, a Nagpur-based socialist leader and one of the leading members of the committee, said, “This event was related to assertion of underprivileged sections. As fascist forces were gaining ground, we conducted this event in order to counter them. We were trying it from a long time, but couldn’t succeed. In our committee, people from all parties CPI, CPM, socialists and Ambedkarities were present. Our members went to different villages and told locals over there to get united against the atrocities on them. A large number of people have come from Vidharbh as the Khairlanji massacre took place there.”
Bipin Bihari Singh, DGP (Prisons), who is presently handling the investigation related to the case, said, “Some of the organisers of the event were on the adverse list and we are keeping a tab on them. We will definitely conduct a proper investigation regarding their role in the event.”
DCP Basavraj Teli, when asked why the permission was granted, said, “We were approached by one Kishore Kamble of the organisation Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule and we issued them guidelines about avoiding actions which would bring disharmony in society by commenting on beliefs and practices of any community. We have booked two of the speakers and will take appropriate action if we find others involved in any kind of conspiracy.”