Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid booked over Pune violence, denied permission for Mumbai event
The organisers of the Mumbai event, where Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid were invited, said it was apolitical and had nothing to do with the violence that broke out in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon area earlier this week.mumbai Updated: Jan 04, 2018 17:50 IST
Mumbai police on Thursday denied permission for a convention that was to see the participation of Dalit activist-legislator Jignesh Mevani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid, who have been booked for allegedly inciting violence that led to the death of a 28-year-old man in Bhima Koregaon.
Authorities detained the organisers of the proposed event at Bhaidas Hall in Vile Parle and imposed section 144 of the IPC to prevent people from assembling at the spot. The move was met with angry protests at the venue of the convention, with agitators accusing the city police of bias.
The Pune police have booked both Mevani and Khalid for making “provocative speeches” in the city. They are also accused of inciting members of the Dalit community after the Bhima Koregaon attack, which culminated in a state-wide agitation that practically brought Mumbai to a standstill on Wednesday.
Protesting the police move, members of Chhatra Bharati – the group organising the event – attempted to squat outside Bhaidas Hall while others roamed around the main road outside. Some even attempted to enter the auditorium, only to be detained by police.
Chhatra Bharati vice-president Sagar Bhalerao said the daylong event, called the All India Students Summit, was planned long ago.He accused the police of acting at the behest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government in the state “to crush the voice of students” who raise uncomfortable questions, but vowed to continue their struggle.
Chhatra Bharati president Datta Dhage and a few other members were detained after they announced their intention to go ahead with the event without police permission. Mevani and Khalid were among those slated to address the first session of the summit, around 11 am.
Some members of the outfit were detained following a scuffle with the police, and later served a notice of unlawful assembly.
“The programme was apolitical. We wanted to ask questions to Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani. The Pune unrest has nothing to do with Mevani,” said Sachin Bansode, Chhatra Bharati’s Mumbai president.
Some Chhatra Bharati members staged protests at the Juhu police station, where their leaders have been detained.
“The government is targeting students because they are perceived as the greatest threat. Free thought is bring curbed everywhere, and we will fight this right from the street to Parliament,” said Richa Singh, president of the Allahabad University student union.
On January 1, Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, in which Dalit soldiers of the British East India Company emerged triumphant over those of the Peshwa, when they were allegedly targeted by upper-caste men. As the Peshwas were Brahmins, the victory is seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.
Mevani had spearheaded protests in Gujarat a year ago, after four Dalits were allegedly flogged by upper-caste men for skinning a dead cow.
(With agency inputs)