Amid tight security, Elgar Parishad 2nd edition held in Pune
Three years after violence broke out in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon village, the second edition of the Elgar Parishad was held in Pune on Saturday with roughly 500 people in attendance and heavy security arrangements.
Academic, activists and writers from Dalit, Left, Muslim and other social organisations addressed the event, held at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch in Pune.
The first edition of the Elgar Parishad was held on December 31, 2017 in Pune’s historic Shaniwar Wada, and attended by thousands. A day later, caste clashes broke out in Bhima Koregaon, roughly 30km away from Pune, during the bicentennial celebration of a British-era war. Tens of thousands of Dalit people from across the country congregate at Bhima Koregaon annually for the event.
Saturday’s event was organised by the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan, an umbrella body of 250 Dalit, Left and other social organisations. It was addressed by Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy, former bureaucrat Kannan Gopinathan, former Bombay HC judge BG Kolse Patil, journalist Prashant Kanojia and others.
The speakers attacked the central government for arresting prominent activists and lawyers in connection with the 2018 violence. The authorities allege that the Elgar Parishad event was part of a broader Maoist conspiracy to foment violence in Bhima Koregaon.
Roy also opposed three recently passed farm laws, which thousands of farmers are opposing despite government assuranes on minimum support prices. “ Lakhs of farmers are suffering due to the unjust laws and it has been their demand that the three laws be withdrawn by the government immediately. The farmers have been peacefully protesting for past two months but concerted efforts are being taken by the Centre to defame the farmers agitation ,” she said.
Condemning the action against academics, activists and others in the Bhima Koregaon case, she said “Today one has to be careful about every comma and word you speak or write as police cases are lodged at slightest pretext…holding Elgar is the need of the hour for the fight against capitalism, and casteist patriarchy.”
Gopinathan said “The central government is foolish as it is branding dissenting intellectuals as urban naxals, addressing Jawaharlal Nehru University students as tukde tukde gang, Sikhs as khalistanis and Muslims as jihadis.”