What is Elgar Parishad 2021?
Two FIRs have been registered against former AMU student Sharjeel Usmani over his objectionable comments at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on 30 January 2021.
The first FIR was filed against him in Pune on the complaint of BJP member Pradip Gavade who accused him of hurting religious sentiments while the second FIR has been filed against him in Lucknow on the complaint of Anurag Singh who accused him of propagating hate against the Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath.
The FIRs have been registered under IPC sections 124 A (sedition), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings) along with sections of the IT Act.
Reacting over the FIR, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh stated that Sharjeel Usmani will be arrested from wherever he is.
Elgar Parishad Conclave held on 30 January 2021
Elgar Parishad event was scheduled on 31 December 2020 but was postponed after Pune Police denied the permission for the event. The event was then organised on 30 January 2021 by 'Bhima Koregaon Shourya Din Prerna Abhiyan' at Ganesh Krida Kala Manch in Pune’s Swargate area.
Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy and former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan were among the keynote speakers at the Elgar Parishad. Other speakers included Shweta and Akashi Bhatt, wife and daughter of imprisoned Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, journalist Prashant Kanojia, Ladeeda Sakhaloon and Ayesha Renna N., student leader Sharjeel Usmani, Abeda Tadvi, mother of Dr. Payal Tadvi whose suicide in May 2019 over alleged harassment by senior doctors sparked outrage in Mumbai, and S.Q.R. Iliyas, human rights activist and father of former JNU student leader Umar Khalid.
What is Elgar Parishad?
The literal meaning of the word 'Elgar' is loud invitation/declaration. On 31 December 2017, an event was held to commemorate the bicentennial (two hundredth) anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima. A coalition of 260 non-profit organizations organised the event called 'Elgar Parishad' at Shaniwarwada Fort in Pune which was attended by approximately 35,000 people.
History of Elgar Parishad
The Shaniwarwada Fort was the seat of power of the Peshwas ( de facto rulers of the Maratha Empire who belonged to the 'Chitpavan Brahmin' community). In the battle of Koregaon Bhima, a regiment Mahar Dalits who were a part of the British Army defeated the Peshwa's Army on 1 January 1818. This victory is considered important by the Mahar Dalits as it was a victory of Mahar Dalits over Brahmin Peshwas. Thus, organising the Elgar Parishad at the Shaniwarwada Fort is seen as the symbol of Dalit assertion.
Elgar Parishad event on 31 December 2017
The first Elgar Parishad event was held on 31 December 2017 at 2 p.m. under six tents pitched at the Shaniwarwada Fort. A number of cultural performances, speeches and slogans with anti-caste themes were staged. Fearing stampede, the police refused to let more people in after 2:30 p.m.
The organisers and speakers of the event included Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, Dalit activist Radhika Vemula (mother of Rohit Vemula), Adivasi activist Soni Sori, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, Bhim Army President Vinay Ratan Singh, retired Bombay High Court Justice BG Kholse-Patil, and student leader Umar Khalid.
Violence at Bhima Koregaon
On 1 January 2018, lakhs of Dalit converged to commemorate the battle at Bhima Koregaon where violence erupted, leaving one dead and several injured.
People including Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Stan Swamy were charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the months following the event. An FIR was filed against Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani for promoting enmity on grounds of religion.
Pune Police alleged that the event was organised and sponsored by the members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) which instigated the violence at Bhima Koregaon.