Denied permission, ex-judge Kolse-Patil says he will hold ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on Jan. 30


He accuses govt. of directing police to keep a watch on him

With the Pune police denying permission to hold another ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on December 31, retired Bombay High Court judge B. G. Kolse-Patil — who was among the chief organisers of the original and controversial ‘Elgaar Parishad’ held in December 2017 — has announced his resolve to hold the event on January 30, 2021, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary.

Stating that he would take to the streets if permission was denied for the January 30 event, Mr. Kolse-Patil hit out at the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, accusing it of directing the police to allegedly keep a watch over him during his meetings in the city.

A vocal critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Home Minister Amit Shah, Mr. Kolse-Patil nevertheless said that the MVA, which claimed to be ‘progressive’, had withdrawn the security that had been given to him by the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP regime in Maharashtra.

“While we had been provided security after the 2017 ‘Elgaar Parishad’ by the then Fadnavis government, it was withdrawn after the MVA came to power. It only proves that the parties in the present government, even if they stake claim to the ‘progressive’ tag, are no different from their predecessors,” he said, claiming that he had been arrested no less than three times in the past when the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government ruled the State between 1999 and 2014.

Claiming that the objective of holding a new edition of the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ was to steer politics away from divisive issues like religion and caste, and to instead focus on pressing matters like food security, health and education, Mr. Kolse-Patil said January 30 was so chosen to coincide with Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary and deceased Ambedkarite scholar Rohith Vemula’s birth anniversary.

“Come what may, we will be holding the event on January 30…we had wanted to hold it earlier on December 31 to raise awareness of how vital issues were being sidelined by governments. However, those with a ‘brahminical’ disposition of mind have tried to defame the ‘Elgaar Parishad’,” he said, reiterating that his event had nothing to do with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), now or in 2017.

Recently, the retired judge had sought permission to hold this new ‘Elgaar Parishad’ at the city’s Ganesh Kala Krida Manch, which was denied by the Pune police citing both safety concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as law and order reasons.

More than 250 progressive social outfits, including several left-leaning and Ambedkarite groups across Maharashtra, and people like Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangha chief Prakash Ambedkar, and Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid had participated in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ that was held on December 31, 2017, in Pune’s Shaniwar Wada.

In the aftermath of the Bhima-Koregaon riots which broke out the next day (January 1, 2018), the Pune city police, in its controversial probe, had stated that the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ had triggered the clashes — a theory vehemently denied by several other activists and Justices (retired) P.B. Sawant and Mr. Kolse-Patil.

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