The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow city have booked former Aligarh Muslim University student leader Sharjeel Usmani under various charges, including sedition, in connection with his speech at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on January 30, ANI reported on Thursday.
A first information report was filed in Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station based on a complaint by a person identified as Anurag Singh, according to the news agency. He watched Usmani’s speech on YouTube.
In his complaint, Singh accused Usmani of “creating hate” against the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, promoting enmity among groups, hurting religious sentiments and conspiring against the government, reported The Indian Express. The FIR also booked Usmani under sections of the Information Technology Act.
This is the second case lodged against Usmani for his speech, after the Pune Police on Tuesday booked him for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups. The FIR was filed following a complaint by a leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing, the Yuva Morcha. Multiple BJP leaders, including former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have demanded action against Usmani. On Wednesday, state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said that a team had been formed to arrest him.
Usmani is currently out on bail after he was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police last year for his alleged role in the clashes that broke out in Aligarh Muslim University on December 15, following protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Elgar Parishad conclave has become a controversial event for the last three years after the Maharashtra Police accused its organisers – a coalition of 250 anti-caste and human rights organisations – of instigating caste-based violence in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon area on January 1, 2018.
This year, besides Usmani, other key speakers at the conclave included author Arundhati Roy, former bureaucrat Kannan Gopinathan, journalist Prashant Kanojia, Dalit activist Satyabhama Suryawanshi from Latur, retired High Court judge BG Kolse Patil and retired Indian Police Services officer SM Mushrif
The first Elgar Parishad was held in Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, a day before lakhs of Dalits from across India gathered at the village of Koregaon Bhima to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a battle in which a Dalit contingent of the British army defeated the region’s Peshwa Brahmins.
Since June 2018, 16 activists and intellectuals have been arrested and denied bail for allegedly provoking the Bhima Koregaon violence, operating as “urban Naxals” with Maoist connections and carrying out “anti-national” activities. They include educators Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen and Hany Babu, Adivasi rights activist Stan Swamy, poets Sudhir Dhawale and Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj and activists Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves.
The authorities claim they were associated with organising the first Elgar Parishad, though most of them have denied this.