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Atheists Meet in Pune Postponed, Organisers Say Police Feared it May Cause Law and Order Issue on 'Ram Navmi'

"The police also said some Hindutvawadi outfits have taken objection to the event," claimed Hande, a member of Bhagat Singh Vicharmanch.
Ram Navami

Image for representational purpose. Credit: The Indian Express

An atheist meet supposed to be held in Pune on Sunday has been postponed, with its organisers claiming that city police feared the event on the day of 'Ram Navmi' could lead to a law and order issue.

However, the police, in their letter to the organisers, did not cite 'Ram Navmi' as the reason, but asked them to postpone the event to April 24.

Ram Navmi, observed as Lord Ram's birthday, is being celebrated by devotees on Sunday.

Nitin Hande, a member of the group that organised the event, Bhagat Singh Vicharmanch, told PTI that the seventh 'atheist meet' was scheduled to be held on April 10 at S M Joshi Hall here in Maharashtra.

The organisers had sent a letter to Vishrambaug police station here on April 8 just to inform that such a programme would be held on Sunday.

"Since the programme was to be held indoors, there was no need to seek police permission. On Saturday, the police called us for a meeting and told us that organising such an event on the day of Ram Navmi could lead to a law and order issue. The police also said some Hindutvawadi outfits have taken objection to the event," Hande claimed.

The event organisers then asked the police to give this in writing, he said. 

"The police sent us a letter, asking us to postpone the event, but did not mention the Ram Navmi point. They mentioned in the letter that since the organisers have not given police the clear outline of the event and scripts of speeches by the speakers, they are requesting us to postpone the event," Hande said.

He said the police had never asked for scripts of speeches for their previous events.

The event organisers submitted a letter to police, assuring the meet had no political agenda, no speeches would be made against any religion or faith, and that the organisers had no motive to hurt anyone, he said.

"Since senior police officials requested us to postpone the event, we took a stand to cooperate with them. We will convene a meeting and decide on the next date of the event," Hande said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Vishrambaug division) Ramakant Mane said the organisers were sent a letter, asking them to postpone the event to a future date and in the meantime, furnish the outline of the event to the police office.

"Thus, the meet should be held on April 24, instead of April 10, and inform police in writing about the outline of the event and what thoughts the speakers would deliver," the police letter stated.

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