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HC refuses to direct Pune Police to allow Bhim Army's rallies

HC refuses to direct Pune Police to allow Bhim Army's rallies

Mumbai, Dec 31 (PTI) The Bombay High Court Monday refused to pass any orders to the Pune Police to permit the Bhim Army to conduct public meetings in the city. A vacation bench of Justice C V Bhadang directed the Pune Police to file its affidavit in response to a petition filed by activist Datta Pol, chief of the Bhim Army's Pune unit. Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad was to address a rally at the SSPMS College ground in Pune on Sunday evening, however, it was cancelled as the organisers failed to get required permissions. On Saturday, his supporters alleged that he was "detained" at his Mumbai hotel, a charge denied by the police. The firebrand Dalit leader was also scheduled to have an interaction with students at Savitribai Phule Pune University Monday, but varsity officials said no permission had been granted for the programme. In the petition, Pol sought a direction to the Pune Police to grant them permission to hold public meetings. According to the petition, the Bhim Army had filed several applications to the Pune Police seeking permission to conduct public meetings and gatherings on December 30 and 31 in the city. "However, till date, police have not replied to it. We later learnt from the media that our applications have been rejected. Hence, this petition has been filed seeking a direction to police to allow us to hold public meetings," Pol's advocate Nitin Satpute said. The petition further claimed that Azad and Bhim Army's Mumbai chief Ashok Kamble were placed under house arrest by the Mumbai Police to ensure that they do not go to Pune. Justice Bhadang was on Monday informed by an advocate appearing for the Pune Police that Azad was never detained or placed under house arrest, as claimed by the petition. The high court refused to pass any interim order and directed police to file its affidavit while posting the petition for hearing on January 4. Apart from permission to hold public meetings, the petition had sought a direction to police to refrain from taking any action against the Bhim Army and its activists. It also sought a compensation of Rs 10 crore from the state government to Azad and other activists of the Bhim Army for "illegal detention". The Bhim Army had planned events in Mumbai on Saturday and in Pune on Sunday, days ahead of the first anniversary of the Koregaon-Bhima violence. Azad is slated to visit Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune district on January 1 on the occasion of 201st anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima of 1818 which Dalits in Maharashtra commemorate. The area around the village had witnessed violent caste clashes on January 1 this year during celebrations to mark the bicentenary of 1818 battle, leaving one person dead and several injured. As lakhs of people are expected to visit the war memorial at Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, police have tightened the security to avoid any untoward incident. PTI SP GK SNESNE