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Six members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a radical cultural group, were booked for allegedly making "provocative" speeches during the Elgaar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada here on December 31 to commemorate the 200 years of the Koregaon Bhima battle, police said today. The event was attended by Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, JNU student leader Umar Khalid, Rohit Vemula's mother Radhika Vemula, and Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar. Shaniwarwada, a historical fortification in the city, had remained the seat of the Peshwas of the Maratha empire until 1818. The complaint against the KKM members was lodged by one Tushar Damgude. The FIR was registered against Sudhir Dhavale, Sagar Gorkhe, Harshali Potdar, Ramesh Gaychor, Deepak Dengle and Jyoti Jagtap, a police official said. The complainant alleged that the "provocative" speeches and presentations made during the entire programme "promoted" enmity between two groups. Quoting the complaint, the official said the KKM members made "provocative" speeches, sang songs, and used "inciting language during the programme and while distributing some books". The complaint also stated that the "inciting speeches and presentations" made during the Elgaar Parishad led to the violence on January 1 at Koregaon Bhima in the district, the official said. One person was killed in the caste violence between two groups near Sanaswadi, adjacent to Koregaon Bhima. The mobs had damaged and torched several vehicles and shops on New Year's day. Besides, houses of local residents were also ransacked. "We have registered a case against the members of the Kabir Kala Manch under sections 153(a), 505(1)(b) and 117 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code," said Vishrambaug Police Station Senior Inspector Appasaheb Shewale. The Kabir Kala Manch had came under the state Anti- Terrorism Squad's scanner some years ago.
At least two members of the group, who later broke away, were arrested for alleged Naxal links. The police already booked Mevani and Khalid for making "provocative" speeches and creating a rift between two communities. The Pune Rural Police had registered an FIR against right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide 'Guruji' under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and under various sections of the IPC including attempt to murder in connection with the caste clashes. The violence occurred during the bicentennial event to commemorate the defeat of Peshwas by the British forces in the Koregaon Bhima battle. Dalits view the battle as the defeat of "casteism" of upper-caste Peshwas. In the wake of the incident, various Dalit organisations observed a statewide bandh on January 3 which took a violent turn.
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