Mevani Didn’t Instigate Bhima Koregaon Violence: NDA MP Athawale

“Police must have acted if Jignesh Mevani’s speech was instigating,” Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said.

Published03 Jan 2018, 09:52 AM IST
2 min read

Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani, who was present at the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle near Pune on 31 December following which an unrest erupted in Maharashtra, found an unlikely supporter as NDA MP (Member of Parliament) Ramdas Athawale came to his rescue.

Police must have acted if Jignesh Mevani’s speech was instigating. But he has no relation with this incident.
Ramdas Athawale told ANI

The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment was speaking in relation to the complaint filed against Mevani and Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University's (JNU) student leader Umar Khalid for their "provocative" speeches at an event near Pune on 31 December.

Athawale, who represents Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha, had earlier demanded Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis inquire into the reasons behind the unrest and ensure "action must be taken against the culprits so that such incidents don't recur."

Policemen accompany protesters as they stage a demonstration  in Mumbai against the violence in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon, on 2 January.
Policemen accompany protesters as they stage a demonstration in Mumbai against the violence in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon, on 2 January.
(Photo: PTI)

Mevani 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 Pune on Sunday.

According to the complainants – Akshay Bikkad and Anand Dhond – Mevani and Khalid had made "provocative" comments at the event.

“Mevani provoked the people to come out on the streets and retaliate. Due to this statement, people took to the streets, and tension gripped the city,” according to the complaint.

Clashes between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindutva organisations during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district had left a man dead on Wednesday.

The clashes broke out at Bhima Koregaon when people were headed towards the war memorial in the village, about 30 km from Pune city, the police had said.

Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima Koregaon battle, which the forces of the British East India Company had won over those of the Peshwa.

Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community – then considered untouchables – were part of the East India Company's forces. The Peshwas were Brahmins and the victory was seen as a symbol of assertiveness by Dalits.

Follow all updates about Bhima Koregaon Clashes here.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)

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