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We are firmly standing with Sharjeel Usmani: Elgar Parishad organisers

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The organisers of the Elgar Parishad 2021 has released a statement in support of Muslim student activist Sharjeel Usmani, who was booked by Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh polices over his speech during the program held in Pune on January 30.

The Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan, organisers of Elgar Parishad 2021 released a statement in English and Hindi late on Saturday evening saying, “A statement from Sharjeel Usmani’s speech on 30 January 2021 at the Elgar Parishad was misrepresented by Brahmhinical Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bhartiya Janata Party and their Sangh Parivar.”

The Pune Police on Tuesday booked former Aligarh Muslim University student and Fraternity Movement national secretary Sharjeel Usmani under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, at the Swargate Police Station in Pune. On Thursday, another FIR under several charges, including sedition, has been registered against him in Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station. Both cases are in connection with his speech at 2021’s edition of Elgar Parishad and based on the complaints of BJP leaders.

The EP’s statement starts: “We request you to see Sharjeel’s entire speech, before reading this position put forth by the organizers of Elgar Parishad 2021. The link for video of his speech is given below. We urge everyone to listen to his entire speech carefully before making a judgment on merit of ‘truthfulness and factuality’.”

“Sharjeel Usmani is a 23-year-old Muslim student. The “Muslim” part of his identity had to be mentioned because the perverted, vile and violent reaction to Sharjeel’s speech is solely because of his religion. The Brahmhinical element has recently created hoopla around one statement in Sharjeel Usmani’s speech on 30th January 2021 at Ganesh Kala Krida Rang Manch, Pune. We, Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan, the organizing body of Elgar Parishad 2021, are releasing our official position on the said issue through this statement. We as organizers of the Elgar Parishad are firmly standing with Shrjeel Usmani,” reads the statement.

In a 11 page statement, while analysing Usmani’s speech, the EP organisers said “great thinkers like Krantiba Jyotiba Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and social critics like Prabodhankar Thackeray and various other laureates, commentators and social-political analysts had also criticized the social structure of this country and especially Hindu religion.”

The statement quoted Ambedkar as saying: “If Hindu Raj becomes a reality then it would be the greatest menace to this country. It is an enemy of democracy. We should make all our efforts to stop Hindu Raj from becoming a reality.”

The organisers went on to say: “Sharjeel Usmani is a sincere and scholarly activist engaged in the cause of Manavmukti (Liberation of all peoples). If one listens to Sharjeel’s speech carefully, it becomes clear that he is always talking in the context of the severe oppression faced by him and many other Muslims like him. The chamber of horror that Muslims have faced in our country because of their religion is devoid of any humanitarian values and morals. In spite of this, Sharjeel’s efforts lay not in spreading hatred and causing destruction but are rather focused on establishing peace and basic human rights.”

“We condemn those Brahminvadi’s who have targeted, abused, made threats to life, and burnt effigies of Sharjeel Usmani by crudely reducing him just to his Muslim identity. We are firmly standing with Sharjeel Usmani. Here we are declaring that we will intensify our efforts to struggle for annihilation of caste-class-patriarchy and Islamophobia,” the statement concluded.

The Elgaar Parishad was organised in Pune on January 30 by Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Rohit Vemula. The Parishad has become an important event for the last three years after the Maharashtra Police accused its organisers – a coalition of 250 anti-caste and human rights organisations – of allegedly instigating violence in Pune’s Bhima Koregaon area on January 1, 2018.

Besides Usmani, other key speakers at the Parishad this year included author Arundhati Roy, former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, journalist Prashant Kanojia, Dalit activist Satyabhama Suryawanshi, student activist Aysha Renna, family members of Payal Tadvi, Sanjiv Bhatt and Rohit Vemula, retired High Court judge BG Kolse Patil and retired Indian Police Services officer SM Mushrif, among others.

Read the full text of speech.

Watch Usmani’s full speech here:

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