While retired Supreme Court justice P B Sawant has said he and fellow organisers of the Elgaar Parishad had nothing to do with the gathering at Koregaon Bhima on January 1, a pamphlet calling for a ‘Prerna March’ to the Jaystambh in Perne village on January 1 had named Justice Sawant as one of the ‘convenors’ of a list of programmes to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
A booklet, Bhima Koregaon Ne Dilay Dhada… Navi Peshwai Masnat Gada’, which also names Justice Sawant in a list of convenors, was sold during Elgaar Parishad. The pamphlet and booklet were issued by the ‘Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerna Abhiyaan’, which is considered to be the main organiser of the Parishad, a few days before the event.
When The Indian Express showed the pamphlet and booklet to Justice Sawant, he said it was the first time he had seen them and had no idea they included his name. Justice Sawant added that he and fellow organisers of the event had not prepared any pamphlet or booklet for Elgaar Parishad. While Justice Sawant said he was not aware of the speakers at Elgaar Parishad, pamphlets naming Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and JNU student Umar Khalid as speakers for the conference were published over a week before the event.
Justice Sawant said they have learnt lesson that it was important to ascertain the backgrounds of those who wanted to be associated with them. He also said another Elgaar Parishad was being planned in Pune, on January 12, to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and Rajmata Jijabai, but the KKM would not be included in it due to questions about its alleged Maoist links.
In its chargesheet, Pune City Police said as per the objectives decided in the meeting of the CPI-Maoist’s Eastern Regional Bureau, the accused had organised Elgaar Parishad ahead of events to mark the Battle of Koregaon Bhima, under the banner of ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Prerna Din Abhiyaan’. They were accused of mobilising various Dalit groups and other organisations against the government through KKM, an alleged Maoist front organisation.