The police in Maharashtra’s Pune city on Wednesday refused to give permission to retired judge BG Kolse Patil to organise Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, PTI reported.

Several activists and academics have been accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident. Patil was among the organisers of the 2017 event, which was held to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.

“We have denied permission in view of the coronavirus restrictions and law and order situation,” said Pune Commissioner of Police Amitabh Gupta.

The retired judge, who sought to hold a cultural event at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch this time, said the organisers would move the High Court against the denial of permission. He said the event would be about keeping democracy, freedom and Constitution “unrestrained”.

Earlier this week, Patil had accused the Maharashtra government of monitoring his activities, the Hindustan Times reported. “Wherever I go the state police follows me,” he claimed. “They click my vehicle pictures. They come to my society and question my driver. They do it deliberately to tarnish my name as a bad man. Earlier, security was provided to me by the then [Devendra] Fadnavis government. Once the new government came to power, my security was withdrawn.”

He said the organisers had already paid the venue fees of Rs 40,000 and booked a hall for the event. “We will invite speakers who are progressive and speak against fascism,” Patil said.

Bhima Koregaon case

The first chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police in November, 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It had named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June, 2018. The police had claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A supplementary chargesheet was filed later in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy. The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.

The Centre transferred the case to the NIA in January after the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra was defeated. A coalition government of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress came to power in the state in November 2019.

Eight people who have been named in the National Investigation Agency chargesheet for the January 2018 violence are former IIT professor Anand Teltumbde, his brother Milind Teltumbde, activist-journalist Gautam Navlakha, Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, three members of the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch and Jesuit priest and human rights activist Stan Swamy. Of them, Milind Teltumbde has been named as an absconding accused and top operative of CPI (Maoist) in the chargesheet.