In an affidavit filed before the Koregaon Bhima Inquiry Commission, the Pune City Police has sought an order to ban protests and public gatherings at various places in the city, including Shaniwar Wada, where Elgaar Parishad was held in 2017. The affidavit also stated that “people from outside” are gathered in Pune for “programmes and agitations” and “they are provoked for disturbing peace and causing riot-like incidents”.
Pune City Police is investigating the alleged Maoist links of the organisers of Elgaar Parishad, a one-day conference held ahead of the 200th commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Police have claimed speeches, statements, songs and other programmes at Elgaar Parishad and during the previous campaigns for the event, “provoked the masses and aggravated violence” in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1, 2018. The inquiry commission was set up by the state government to probe the causes of the violence, which claimed one life and left several others injured.
Attempt to prevent untoward incidents
The first affidavit by Pune City Police, before the commission, stated that 'provocative speeches' made at Elgaar Parishad and ‘objectionable programmes’ before the event had ‘caused tension’ among people . The second affidavit by Pune police, seeking an order to ban protests at sensitive and historical places, seems to be an attempt to avert the possibility of untoward incidents at these spots. Whether the commission has the power to pass an order in this regard remains to be seen.
Advocate Aashish Satpute, the lawyer for the commission, confirmed that the supplementary affidavit has been filed by Additional Commissioner of Police Ravindra Sengaonkar. The Elgaar Parishad case comes under Sengaonkar’s jurisdiction.
In the affidavit, the ACP said, “Pune has several state and central government offices. Due to it, people outside the city are gathered here for social and political programmes, agitations, protest marches of various organisations and political parties. Public peace is disturbed by provoking them, causing riot-like incidents involving people from other states, making it difficult for the police to control the situation. Many times, agitations, protests cause traffic jams …Due to it, the life of common people in the city gets affected. The importance of historical places is not maintained. So, in view of the law and order situation and security reasons, it is requested to ban programmes like public gatherings, agitations, and protests at historical and sensitive places in the city”.
Besides Shaniwar Wada, the affidavit lists a few more historical sites, places likes Mula Mutha river bed in Deccan area and some spots were traffic congestion is seen. Pune police has also sought a ban on public gatherings and protests at these place.
Sengaonkar also stated in the affidavit that permission for holding Elgaar Parishad was sought from the Vishrambaug police station on a letterhead of the ‘Kranti Jyoti Savitribai Phule Samajik Seva Sanstha’, by the organisation’s president Kishor Manohar Kamble, who had sought permission to organise a ‘Samata Parishad’ at Shaniwar Wada on December 31. Permission was granted on December 27, 2017 for the event on certain conditions. The material prepared for campaigning for this event mentioned it as Elgaar Parishad. The affidavit also names booklets and pamphlets circulated at the Elgaar Parishad and says that prima facie, it appeared that a large amount of money was spent for organising the event. Advocate Shishir Hiray, who represents the state, said it was important to bring these facts before the commission.