NEW DELHI: The Chhatra Bharti Sangathan, a students organisation that organises the All India Students Summit for 31 years annually, was caught by surprise when the Maharashtra government moved in to cancel the meeting with Section 144 and detention of student leaders. However, it has decided now to hold a press conference to be addressed by Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid, and re-convene the summit on January 10 despite the crackdown.

Chatra Bharti Sangathan vice president Sagar Bhalerao told The Citizen that permission for the event was given two months ago when Mevani and Khalid were listed as speakers. This was before the Gujarat elections, when Mevani was not a MLA.

Suddenly, he said, the permission was revoked. The police gave the Pune violence and subsequent Mumbai Dalit protests as the reason. This was after Mevani and Khaled themselves had decided not to speak at the meeting, as they had both been targeted by the authorities and had decided not to participate in the Mumbai event.

The organisers, Bhalerao said, tried to tell the authorities that Mevani and Khalid would not be speaking at the event now, but this was not accepted. And instead “ the police clamped down on us and detained the students for no reason at all.’ Youth speakers Richa Singh and Pradeep Narwal were detained, the students present at the spot were manhandled by the police, their mobile phones were taken away.

Bhalerao said that for hall meetings there is no need for permission, and Section 144 cannot be applied. However, the police insisted, several students were beaten and sustained injuries. Bhalerao said that their medical reports were awaited.

Chatra Bharti is a non political organisation founded by Dr Narendra Rahulkar. It has been organising All India Student Summit peacefully, every year, since thirty odd years. Bhalerao said this was the first time they have been denied permission. He said this was politically motivated by the Hindutva brigade. He said that the Fadnavis government directed the police to stop the event and detain the students. He said this was the first time in three decades that the organisation had been so treated, with a political angle attached to what was a simple youth meeting.

Bhalerao said that the Sangathan had now decided to hold a press conference in Mumbai to be addressed by both Mevani and Umar Khalid. He said that the summit will be held, now on January 10 on the social media platform, and will be addressed by several leaders including Mevani, Khalid, Richa Singh and Narwal. He said that they are optimistic that a record number of students and youth would participate in the social media summit, “and not let the right wing extremists succeed in their propaganda.”