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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Sharjeel Usmani booked by Pune Police over ‘provocative speech’ at Elgaar Parishad 2

Usmani has been booked on charges of 'promoting enmity between different groups' following a complaint filed by a leader of the BJP's youth wing.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: February 3, 2021 12:32:12 am
Sharjeel Usmani, Anil DeshmukhSharjeel Usmani was booked under IPC Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), a non-bailable offence. (File)

PUNE City police late on Tuesday registered an offence against Sharjeel Usmani, a student leader of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), for the alleged provocative speech delivered by him at ‘Elgaar Parishad 2021’, which was held in the city on January 30. Usmani has been booked on charges of ‘promoting enmity between different groups’ following a complaint filed by a leader of the BJP’s youth wing.

Lawyer Pradeep Gawade, who is Pune regional secretary of the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), had on Monday submitted a complaint application at the Swargate police station. Based on the complaint and after preliminary probe, Pune Police on Tuesday night booked Usmani under Indian Penal Code section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).

Speaking to The Indian Express, Pune City Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said, “Sharjeel Usmani has been booked under IPC Section 153A, based on Pradeep Gawade’s complaint. Further probe is on.”

On Tuesday, former chief minister and now leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking action against Usmani. Fadnavis had said in the letter, “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 of us. I sincerely hope that after receiving the letter, you will take necessary action and teach him a lesson.”

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil 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.

The Elgaar Parishad 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.

Other than Usmani, other key speakers at the conference 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.

Usmani (24), a student leader of AMU, had been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police last year for his alleged role in the clashes that broke out following protests against the amended citizenship law on the AMU campus on December 15, 2019. He is currently out on bail.

The Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan had organised the first Elgaar Parishad, held at Shaniwar 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 had 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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