A police complaint has been registered against Dalit activist leader and newly inducted Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani for a hate speech he allegedly gave in Pune on 31 December last year.
Addressing a gathering at Pune's Shaniwar Wada fort on the 200th anniversary of the historically significant Battle of Koregaon, Mevani allegedly called for a "revolution" and said it will have to come about on the roads. Apart from Mevani, JNU student leader Umar Khalid was also mentioned in the complaint. The duo was denied permission to a summit they were supposed to address in Mumbai on Thursday, PTI reported.
The Battle of Koregaon pitted 800 British soldiers against 30,000 Marathas on 1 January, 1818. However, the reason this particular skirmish happened between the British and the Marathas is remembered even today is because the local Mahar community fought alongside the British against the Marathas. Even today, as mentioned in a report in Scroll, many Dalit communities see the battle as being the first step in their struggle against caste-based oppression.
Addressing a rally last week to commemorate this event, Mevani gave a speech that went viral on social media. He is reported to have said, "If there is to be a revolution in India, it won't be in the Assembly or Parliament but on the roads. And it's this people's movement that will end the 'New Peshwas'. It's this message that we want to spread through the Bhima Koregaon movement."
An umbrella coalition of various student activists and Dalit leaders have termed the RSS-BJP saffron combine at the Centre as the "New Peshwas", accusing the dispensation of being anti-minority and anti-Dalit, like the notoriously upper-caste Peshwa rulers used to be in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
"If we are to defeat the 'New Peshwas', if we are to take the Bhima Koregaon fight forward, if we are to be inspired by the agitation, we need to be politicians. But the abolition of the caste system will only come about by fighting on the streets," he said, calling for a "revolution".
"There will be a revolution in 2019, and all the pro-poor of India have to come together. The communists, the Dalits, the backward classes, and people of all different religions and those who are atheists like me will have to join hands with each other. Because, as (BJP MP Anant Kumar) Hegde said, the BJP's aim is to amend the Constitution," he added.
He threatened further action on 14 April, 2018, the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. "On 14 April, we will be in Ahmedabad. And if we aren't allowed to be there, we will go to Nagpur and announce the launch of 'Sangh Samapti Sammelan'. We follow not only Savitribai Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar but also Bhagat Singh," Mevani said.
It is believed that his call for action and revolution may have inspired thousands of Dalit activists who took to the streets in across different cities of Maharashtra on Wednesday, disrupted public transport, and threw normal life out of gear.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: Jan 04, 2018 14:04 PM | Updated Date: Jan 04, 2018 14:38 PM