The organisers of the Elgar Parishad conclave on Thursday said that they will hold the event in Maharashtra’s Pune city on January 30, The Indian Express reported. The police had refused to grant them permission for the event last week, citing coronavirus-related protocols.

Retired judge BG Kolse Patil said the organisers will hold the event on the roads if they are denied permission again. Patil had sought permission to hold a cultural event at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch this time.

“The aim of organising the Elgar Parishad has always been to bring the focus of politics back on the basic needs of common citizens, as well as health and education and take it away from casteism, communalism and religious divisions,” he said at a press briefing. “Since we could not hold it as planned on December 31, we will now organise it on January 30 at Ganesh Kala Krida Kendra Manch auditorium in Pune.”

Akash Sabale, another organiser of the event, said that they have submitted an application to the authorities. “The conference will be held from 11 am to 10 pm and will be addressed by a large number of social activists and thought leaders from across the country,” he said, according to The Indian Express.

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Sabale added that the date coincided with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the birth anniversary of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar who died by suicide in 2016.

The organisers also demanded that Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar fulfill his promise of ordering a Special Investigation Team inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon violence, 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.

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.