Elgar Parishad case
Elgar Parishad, a gathering, was organised on Jan 30 this year to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima at Ganesala Krida Rangmanch, Swargate, Pune. Usmani, along with various other people from around the country, was a speaker at this event. The event saw some dignitaries such as Former Justice BG Kolse Patil, Arundhati Roy, and included poetry readings, letter readings and speeches of the guest among other things. It is on this occasion that Usmani delivered his address to a select audience.
Usmani's plea states that not a single case of violence took place before or after his speech at the venue.
FIR against Usmani
The FIR at Swargate police station was registered by Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha secretary Pradeep Gawade who was also associated with Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad. He alleged that Usmani made a provocative and offensive statement against the Hindu community, Indian judiciary, and parliament. The FIR was registered under section 153 A of Indian penal code which is for promoting enmity between different groups.
Usmani on the other hand in his plea states that the FIR is frivolous, baseless and has been registered on the basis of certain select statements taken out of context from his speech. He claims that the FIR is registered for political gains and is no more than a political gimmick.
What does Usmani's plea say?
Usmani in his plea says that in his speech, he had identified a problem in the social construct and had concluded with a solution to that problem. His plea gives a long explanation to that effect as well. Usmani states that in his speech what he was trying to say was that there should be continuous dialogue between committees by coming together, remembering each other’s pain and talk about unity. "It is in this light that the petitioner has used certain strong remarks towards the identification of the problem," states Usmani's plea.
While seeking the quashing of the FIR against him, Usmani states that free speech has to be differentiated from hate speech. The plea says, "The speech is mostly based on facts that are available in the public domain or in academic literature. The speech prima facie does not have any intention to cause disorder or incite people to violence. However, it does demand combat against the hate in the society and not against any particular community."
Usmani's plea will be heard by the Bombay High Court next week. An FIR was registered against Usmani in Lucknow as well for delivering this speech. Prior to this, last year Usmani was arrested during anti CAA protests.