The Akhil Bharatiya Brahman Mahasangh (ABBM) on Thursday said that it has no objection to the gathering being planned by the Bhim Army ahead of the January 1 anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, but wants the police and government to control it so that views are not expressed against any particular community during the event.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Datta Pol, the Pune district president of Bhim Army, announced plans to hold a ‘Bhima Koregaon Sangharsh Mahasabha’, a massive gathering of Dalit groups on the SSPMS grounds in the city, in the presence of its firebrand leader and founder Chandrashekhar Azad on December 30.
Bhim Army has sought permission from the Pune city police for holding the gathering. In a press conference on Thursday, ABBM said it will not approach the police for rejecting permission for the gathering. “Last year we had expressed ideological opposition to the Elgaar Parishad. Now if again a conference is being planned on similar lines with speakers having similar views, then we do respect their freedom of speech and expression, but to prevent any untoward incidents like what happened after the Elgaar Parishad, we want the police to keep a watch on it. We do not want police to cancel permission for the gathering (of Bhim Army). But care should be taken that hatred is not spread between two communities who have fought for the freedom of the country,” said Anand Dave, Pune district president of the ABBM.
It may be recalled that ABBM had opposed the Elgaar Parishad held at Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. ABBM had then even asked the police to deny permission for the Elgaar Parishad claiming that it was an event that will spread casteism. However, ABBM later changed its stand and welcomed the speakers of Elgaar Parishad, but also called for an open debate on the Battle of Koregaon Bhima.
Dave even held a casual meeting with Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, who was a key speaker at the Elgaar Parishad, along with MLA Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid and Bhim Army’s national president Vinay Ratan Singh.
Police claim that speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad and campaigns before the event had played a role in instigating violence witnessed on January 1 this year, in which one person was killed and several others injured. As per the Pune city police investigation, Elgaar Parishad was held as per the objectives of the banned CPI-Maoist. In all, 22 people have been named as accused, and some high-profile arrests have been made in the case for their alleged Maoist links.