Elgar Parishad 2021: After 3 years, the conclave returns to Pune
Elgar Parishad 2021 was organised at Pune's Ganesh Kala Krida auditoriumChaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Elgar Parishad 2021: After 3 years, the conclave returns to Pune

Three years after the violence broke out in Bhima Koregoan village, the second Elgar Parishad was organised in Pune amid heavy security arrangements.

Sanjay Abhoot woke up early on Saturday morning to get ready to reach Pune’s Ganesh Kala Krida auditorium on time. After passing through multiple security checks at the venue, he sat eagerly in the auditorium, waiting for the Elgar Parishad 2021 to begin. “Everyone should attend this event because you will not get to hear such ideas and thoughts at any other place. They discuss the real questions that our country is facing today. I have come here to lend my support to our agitation against Casteism and Manuwad,” said Abhoot, 50, a resident of Pune. He was among the crowd of 300 people who came to attend the Elgar Parishad 2021 on Saturday.

Thackrji Gaikwad, 80-year-old farmer, standing at a book stall at the Elgar Parishad event in Pune
Thackrji Gaikwad, 80-year-old farmer, standing at a book stall at the Elgar Parishad event in PuneChaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Apart from Abhoot, Thackrji Gaikwad, who was also in attendance to express his solidarity with the protesting farmers at Delhi’s border. "Even I wanted to go to Delhi to support the farmers there but because of my age and health, I am not able to go there,” said the 80-year-old farmer.

A poster at the Elgar Parishad event in Pune
A poster at the Elgar Parishad event in Pune Chaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Three years after the violence broke out in Bhima Koregoan village, the second Elgar Parishad was organised in Pune amid heavy security arrangements.

Author Arundhati Roy, former bureaucrat Kannan Gopinath, Justice BG Kolse-Patil, Journalist Prashant Kanojia, student leaders Sharjeel Usmani and Ayesha Renna, Dalit agrarian labourer and activist Bant Singh along with activists, writers, academics, artists from Muslim, Left and Dalit organisations addressed the event.

Remembering Rohith Vemula

An artist sculpts Rohith Vemula's bust as a symbol of remembrance on his birth anniversary.
An artist sculpts Rohith Vemula's bust as a symbol of remembrance on his birth anniversary.Chaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC
Speakers kicked-off the Elgar Parishad 2021 with a symbolic tearing of the farm CAA-NRC, UAPA and farm bills
Speakers kicked-off the Elgar Parishad 2021 with a symbolic tearing of the farm CAA-NRC, UAPA and farm billsChaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

The second conclave kicked-off with a symbolic tearing of the CAA-NRC, UAPA and farm bills. The event also marked the birth anniversary of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar at the Hyderabad Central University who died by suicide in 2016 which triggered a students movement against caste-based discrimination in educational institutes.

Ayesha Renna, student leader, and anti-CAA activist, speaking at the Elgar Parishad 2021
Ayesha Renna, student leader, and anti-CAA activist, speaking at the Elgar Parishad 2021 Chaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

“The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad and enforced disappearance of Najid Ahmed in JNU reveals that agents of brahminical fascism have selected students from the marginalised communities as their targets,” said Ayesha Renna, student leader, and anti-CAA activist.

“Rohith Vemula’s humiliation and Sangh violence against Najib remind us that there are an entrenched history of casteism and Islamophobia even in the premier universities,” Renna added.

Abida Tadvi, Payal Tadvi's mother who died died by suicide in 2019, allegedly due to caste-discrimination by her seniors, speaking at the Elgar Parishad
Abida Tadvi, Payal Tadvi's mother who died died by suicide in 2019, allegedly due to caste-discrimination by her seniors, speaking at the Elgar ParishadChaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Payal Tadvi’s mother Abida Tadvi was also present at the stage. Payal Tadvi, a medical student in Mumbai’s TNMC and BYL Nair hospital died by suicide in 2019, allegedly due to caste-discrimination by her seniors.

“I am going through a lot of pain. The things which happened with Payal should not happen with anyone. There should be no more cases like that of Payal and Rohith Vemula,” said Abida Tadvi before breaking down on the stage as she delivered her speech.

Several speakers at the event attacked the central government for arresting activists and intellectuals in connection with 2018 violence and for its Hindutva idealogy.

Anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Usmani at the stage
Anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Usmani at the stage Chaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Emphasizing that various organs of the country like media, executive, Judiciary are compromised today, anti-CAA activist Sharjeel Usmani said, “I don’t trust the Indian State today and this is not my shortfall. No one can call me anti-national for this. It is not my responsibility to earn the trust of the State, it is, in-fact, the State’s responsibility. They should earn our Trust.”

Journalist Prashant Kanjia spoke about how believers of “Hindu Rastra” have taken over the country.

“If people asking for a Khalistan are anti-national then what about those people who are wants a Hindu Rastra. Media should tell people that people demanding for a Hindu Rastra is also an act a treason”

Members of Kabir Kala Manch performing at Elgar Parishad 2021
Members of Kabir Kala Manch performing at Elgar Parishad 2021Chaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Samata Kala Manch, Nimirvu Kalaiyagam, and Kabir Kala Manch, whose three members are among 16 arrested over the Bhima Koregoan, also performed at the event.

"Elgar Parishad event has been defamed by corporate media"

Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy delivering her speech at the Elgar Parishad 2021
Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy delivering her speech at the Elgar Parishad 2021Chaitanya Bagwaiya/TBC

Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy, one of the keynote speakers at the event, started her speech, "Ek Ladai Mohabbat Ki," by opposing three farm laws and expressing her solidarity with the farmers. “From this platform let me join the other speakers to express my solidarity with the farmers' protest that is calling for the immediate withdrawal of the three Farm Bills that have been rammed down the throats of millions of farmers and farm workers and brought them onto the streets. We are here to express our sorrow and anger for the many who have died during the protest. The situation on Delhi’s borders where the farmers have been peacefully camping for two months is becoming tense and dangerous. Every possible trick and provocation is being used to divide and discredit the movement. Now, more than ever, we must stand by the farmers,” she said.

She also condemned the arrest of “Bhima Koregoan 16” – 16 arrested human rights activists, lawyers, academicians under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and are still languishing in jail – she said, “Nobody, not even their captors probably believe that they have committed the hackneyed crimes they are being accused of – planning the assassination of the Prime Minister or plotting murder. Everybody knows they are in jail for their intellectual clarity and moral courage – both of which are viewed by this regime as a significant threat.”

Attacking the mainstream media, she said, “Over the last two years the Elgar Parishad as an event and an organisation has been relentlessly defamed and demonised by the corporate media.”

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