The Bhim Army Sunday moved a petition before the Bombay High Court seeking permission to conduct a public meeting in Pune after the Pune police declined to give it approval for the programme scheduled for Sunday. The court posted the matter for hearing on Monday.
In the absence of relevant clearances, the ‘Bhima Koregaon Sangharsh Mahasabha’, a rally planned by the Bhim Army on Sunday was cancelled. A few policemen were deployed at the venue when the stage and other arrangements were being cleared.
In the petition filed Sunday through lawyer Nitin Satpute, Datta Pol, Pune unit chief of Bhim Army, urged the court to restrain the state from taking any action against him or the Bhim Army. In addition, he has sought compensation of Rs 10 crore for “illegally detainment” of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and other Dalit activists by the Mumbai Police on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Azad, who was detained in Mumbai and not allowed to hold a scheduled public meeting in the city, arrived in Pune in the evening and held a press conference. “Despite asking for it well in advance, police have not given us the permission (to hold the event). But we have approached the High Court. The hearing is scheduled on Monday. If we do not get permission (from the court), I will meet the supporters of Bhim Army in Pune, which is my right. Police are violating the Article 19 of the Indian Constitution by denying us permission,” Azad said.
Asked whether he would visit Jaystambh in Perne village, about 30 km northeast of Pune, on January 1, the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, Azad replied in the affirmative.
Azad said the police investigation into the alleged Maoist links of the organisers of Elgaar Parishad, an event organised last year in the run up to the January 1 anniversary, was a “political stunt”.
After reaching Pune, Azad visited the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji and then went to the statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar near Pune railway station, where he was welcomed by his supporters who were present in large numbers.
Joint Commissioner of Police Shivaji Bodkhe said no restrictions had been put on Azad’s movements in the Pune city.
Bhim Army had also planned Azad’s interaction with students and youths at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) on December 31. But there was no permission from SPPU for the event. So, with the support of few student organisations, Bhim Army planned to organise Azad’s interaction with students at the university’s Aniket canteen. Also, Bhim Army has planned Azad’s visit to ‘Jaystambh’ at Perne village, which comes under the jurisdiction of Pune Rural Police, on January 1.