February 2, 2021 7:38:15 pm
A day after Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that speeches at the recent Elgaar Parishad will be examined for “objectionable comments”, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, demanding action against student leader Sharjeel Usmani for his alleged provocative speech at the event in Pune on January 30.
The former chief minister also questioned the permission granted to hold Elgaar Parishad 2021, in spite of “what has happened in the recent past”.
Fadnavis on Tuesday tweeted the letter written by him to Thackeray. “Strictest possible action is called for against Sharjeel Usmani for the extremely insulting and objectionable statement made him against the entire Hindu community,” the BJP leader stated in the letter, written in Marathi.
Quoting parts of Usmani’s speech from the conference in the letter, Fadnavis said, “This youth comes to Maharashtra, maligns Hindutva without any fear and displays his rogue behaviour, and there is no action against him? This is really surprising. This is very insulting to all is us. I sincerely hope that after receiving the letter you will take necessary action and teach him a lesson.”
The letter added, “Sharjeel’s statements show that it was a mistake to grant permission to orgainsers of the Elgaar Parishad in spite of being aware of what has happened in the past through this conference.”
Deshmukh had on Monday said the state government will examine the speeches made at ‘Elgaar Parishad 2021’ to see if any “objectionable comments” were made at the event. Deshmukh’s reaction was in response to the demand made by state BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye, who had also sought action against Usmani, a student leader of the Aligarh Muslim University.
The event was organised in Pune by the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan on January 30, which is the birth anniversary of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar of the University of Hyderabad whose suicide had created an uproar in 2016.
Earlier, Pradeep Gawade, state secretary of the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), had filed a complaint application with Pune police, seeking registration of an offence against Usmani.
Other speakers at the Elgaar Parishad 2021 included author Arundhati Roy, former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, journalist Prashant Kanojia, Dalit activist Satyabhama Suryawanshi from Latur, retired High Court judge B G Kolse Patil and retired IPS officer S M Mushrif, among others.
The Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan had also organised the first Elgaar Parishad, held at Shaniwaar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, a day before the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
An investigation by Pune Police had claimed that the conclave was organised as per the “strategy of the banned CPI-Maoist”. Police also claimed that “provocative” speeches at the conference were among factors that aggravated the violence at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018. The National Investigation Agency had taken over the probe in the case last year.
Several prominent human rights activists have been arrested in connection with the case, including Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao and Stan Swamy, as well as Elgaar Parishad organiser Sudhir Dawale and artists of Kabir Kala Manch, for their alleged links with the CPI-Maoist.
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