Pune: An FIR was filed against Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid for their alleged “provocative” speeches during an event here on December 31, an official said today. Both were charged for allegedly creating a rift and spreading disharmony between the Maratha and Dalit communities.
Mevani, the newly elected MLA from Gujarat, and Khalid had attended the “Elgar Parishad”, an event organised to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima- Koregaon, at Shaniwar Wada in the city on December 31.
According to a complaint filed by city resident Akshay Bikkad, Mevani and Khalid allegedly made “provocative” speeches at the event and their remarks were aimed at creating disharmony and rift between the communities, which led to the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
Bikkad approached the Deccan-Gymkhana police with the complaint, which was forwarded to the Vishrambaug police station, since Shaniwarwada falls under its jurisdiction. The Vishrambaug police registered the FIR against the two leaders yesterday, the official said.
According to the complaint, Mevani at the Pune event said, “If we want to win over this new Peshwai, the battle of Bhima Koregaon needs to be taken ahead.” The Dalit leader said it was right that people fighting the battle needed to be in assemblies and Parliament, but if one had to eradicate casteism, it would happen only by taking to the streets.
According to the complaint, Khalid, the student leader from JNU in New Delhi, said the battle of Bhima Koregaon had to be taken ahead. “They had attacked. It is time to retaliate and we will fight this battle and we will win and this victory over new Peshwai will be the true homage to the martyrs of Bhima Koregaon battle,” the complaint quoted Khalid as saying.
Based on the complaint, offences were registered against Mevani and Khalid under IPC sections 153 (a) (delivering speech to create disharmony or feelings of enmity), section 505 (giving statement conducing to public mischief) and 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than ten persons), the police official said.
Normal life was crippled in Maharashtra yesterday due to a bandh called by Dalit groups to protest the violence on the anniversary of a battle fought 200 years ago. Violence erupted in Pune on January 1 when Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the British defeated the Peshwas of Maharashtra.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community were part of the East India Company’s forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins, and the victory is seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.