‘We will not allow hate speech near Jaystambh on January 1’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/bhima-koregaon-we-will-not-allow-hate-speech-near-jaystambh-on-january-1-5516360/

‘We will not allow hate speech near Jaystambh on January 1’

With lakhs of Dalits set to converge at Koregaon Bhima and nearby villages to mark the 201st anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, the district administration says all plans are in place to ensure peaceful celebrations. District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who is coordinating the efforts of the police and the administration, tells they will not allow hate speech

(Left) District Collector Naval Kishor Ram. (Express Photo by Pavan Khengre)

Q. What is the current situation in Perne and nearby villages?

The atmosphere is positive in Perne and nearby villages. There is no tension at all. We have been interacting with people here and everything is peaceful now. Things are actually going according to plan. We had planned to install CCTV cameras, drones, rope in buses…all are on the ground. There is no negativity of any sort. Things are proceeding smoothly. I will be personally camping in the area on December 31 and January 1.

Q. Despite the precautions, do you anticipate trouble?

We have always anticipated trouble, but through our stringent measures, we have been able to keep the situation under control.

Q. Who do you think is likely to create trouble?

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We cannot name any person…There are always certain elements out to create disturbances. The police, through their intelligence network, have been working on the clues. We will not allow any kind of disturbance to take place. Even a small fight or a petty quarrel could disturb the situation. We want to avoid any such happening.

Q. Will speeches be allowed near the Jaystambh?

Speeches will not be allowed close to the Jaystambh. Speeches will be allowed only 500 metres away from Jaystambh, but on a small scale. We have framed a code of conduct and everyone will have to follow it. Our concern is mainly about hate speech. We will not allow any kind of hate speech. We will stop them then and there. In a vibrant democracy like ours, we cannot discourage free speech, but at the same time we cannot allow hate and provocative speeches, speeches that could inflame sentiments and create trouble.

Q. How many parties have sought permission for the rally?

At least five parties have sought permission for holding rallies. These include the Republican Party of India, Bharat Mukti Morcha and Dalit Cobra.

Q. Are you going to shut down social media on December 31 and January 1 ?

We will not reveal what we will be doing. As of now, we are assessing the situation.