Denied permission by Pune Police to hold a conference to commemorate the battle for Koregaon Bhima on its 203rd anniversary on Thursday, the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad have said that they will hold the event in Pune on January 30. They said if not permitted again, they would hold the conference on the streets.
On December 20, the members of ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan’ – an umbrella body of various organisations that had put together the Elgaar Parishad on December 31, 2017 – along with retired HC judge BG Kolse Patil, who was also one of the conveners of the conference, held in meeting in Pune. They decided to organise the Elgaar Parishad conference on Thursday, December 31, ahead of the 203rd anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
However, on December 23, the Pune city police denied permission for holding the event, citing Covid-19 and law and order reasons.
Addressing a press conference in Pune on Thursday, Kolse Patil said, “The aim of organising the Elgaar Parishad has always been to bring the focus of politics back on the basic needs of common citizens, as well as health and education and take it away from casteism, communalism and religious divisions. Since we could not hold it as planned on December 31, we will now organise it on January 30 at Ganesh Kala Krida Kendra Manch auditorium in Pune. And if not allowed there, we will hold it on the streets.”
Akash Sabale, another member of the body, said, “We have planned to hold the Elgaar Parishad on January 30 at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch and have also submitted an application in this regard. The date coincides with the birth anniversary of (Dalit student) Rohith Vemula and the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The conference will be held from 11 am to 10 pm and will be addressed by a large number of social activists and thought leaders from across the country.”
A day after the 2017 conference, which was held in Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31, violence broke out in the Koregaon Bhima area in which one person was killed and several others injured. The subsequent police action saw the arrests of Elgaar Parishad organiser Sudhir Dawale as well as several activists, including Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navalakha, Varavara Rao and Stan Swamy, for alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist.