The Mumbai wing of the Shri Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan has decided to postpone a programme, scheduled for Sunday, in which the organisation’s founder Sambhaji Bhide was set to deliver a public lecture. Bhide has been accused of orchestrating violence during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on Monday, and complaints have been filed against him by Dalit activists.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of Mumbai Police DCP Sachin Patil said the police had not granted permission for the event. The Mumbai Police had on Thursday also denied permission for an event in which Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid were scheduled to speak.
Balvantrao Dalvi, the Mumbai head of the Shri Shiv Pratishthan, said they had postponed the event as they did
not want anyone to “foment public disorder”.
“We want to ensure that secessionist forces do not get a chance to implement their nefarious designs and foment public disorder and caste riots in the state again. For this reason, we have have decided to postpone Guruji’s (Bhide’s) programme for a few days. We are only postponing it and not cancelling it,” he said. Dalvi claimed that secessionist forces and Naxalites were involved in spreading trouble in the state, and that the same groups had conspired to implicate Bhide.
“Anita Salve has filled a false complaint against our honourable Guruji. In the backdrop of the violence at Bhima Koregaon, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar had given a call for a shutdown across Maharashtra. There was destruction of public property during the bandh. The government needs to probe who is behind this incident and also who is prompting Salve to file this false complaint,” Dalvi said.
The organisation claimed that Bhide was a proponent of Hindutva, not a casteist. “There is nothing wrong if you espouse Hindutva. Bhide Guruji is a Hindutva supporter. He is not against any caste,” said Dalvi. The organisation also demanded an investigation into the violence that took place in the state over the past few days.