Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote last month submitted a 10-page representation to the Shikrapur police station, where an FIR accusing him of orchestrating the violence that broke out during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1 has been lodged. Ekbote, who heads the Samasta Hindu Aghadi, is also likely to submit the letter before the Supreme Court Wednesday. The apex court, which is hearing his anticipatory bail application, had extended Ekbote’s interim pre-arrest bail till March 14.
Claiming that Dr B R Ambedkar has been his idol, Ekbote, in the affidavit in Marathi, said he has conducted a lot of work under the name of Ambedkar because he and his associates have “pure feelings” towards the leader, “which cannot be expressed in words”. Ekbote has submitted his version of the Koregoan Bhima violence and said neither he nor Sambhaji Bhide, head of Shivraj Pratishthan, had anything to do with the clashes in Koregaon Bhima. Ekbote said on January 1, Prakash Ambedkar, holding a press conference, made baseless allegations that he and Bhide were responsible for the violence at Koregoan Bhima. Ambedkar also announced a Maharashtra bandh on January 2, which caused tension in the state, Ekbote alleged.
“Around Rs 1,000 crore of loss was incurred by the government because of the bandh. I’m nowhere related to the incident of the Koregaon Bhima violence. Bhide and I have been dragged into this. The reason being Bhide, CM (Devendra) Fadnavis, RSS chief (Mohan) Bhagwat and myself belong to the same society (samaj),” Ekbote says. “Naxalites and Leftists, who have no support of the public, had organised an event in Maharashtra calling it ‘Prernamarch’ from December 31, 2017. The agenda of ‘Prernamarch’ was to make villages around Pune aware about the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. However, through ‘Prernamarch’, Naxalites had sown the seeds of casteism and division in the society in Maharashtra,” he alleges.
“On December 31, 2017, some Communists, Naxalites and Prakash Ambedkar organised ‘Elgaar Parishad, a conference to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon at Shaniwar Wada, Pune. Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, who has criticised (PM) Narendra Modi, and Umar Khalid, who has made ‘anti-national’ comments… , Sudhir Dhavle associated with the Naxalite movement, Ambedkar and Harshali Podar, Sagar Gorkhe and Bharat Patankar, other Leftists and Naxalites had participated in the conference,” Ekbote’s letter states.
Ekbote adds, “Thousands of pamphlets were circulated in Pune and Maharashtra, which said, ‘Fadnavis and Bhagwat’s rule of new Peshwai should be overthrown,” Ekbote states. “During the conference, Mevani, Khalid, Dhavle, Ambedkar, Podar, Patankar and former judge B G Kolse Patil had delivered provocative speeches,” the affidavit states. Ekbote says provocative remarks were made against Modi, Fadnavis, Bhagwat, the BJP government and RSS during the conference.
Ekbote states that the woman who complained against him and Bhide is known to neither of them. “She named us in the complaint on instructions of someone,” Ekbote says. An FIR was registered at the Pimpri police station by activist Anita Salve on January 2 against Bhide, Ekbote and their supporters. Later, another FIR was lodged at the Yerwada police station by activist Sushma Andhare. Both complaints were then transferred to the Pune Rural police for further investigation.
Ekbote, in his letter, also states that there are 23 FIRs against him in which, he is acquitted in five cases, three cases are disposed. The incident at Koregaon Bhima Thousands of Dalits gathered in Pune city to attend an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. There were violent clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups, resulting in the death of at least one person and injuries to several others.
According to police, more than five lakh people, mainly from the Dalit community, had assembled in Pune for the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle, in which British forces had defeated an army of Peshwas on January 1, 1818. Every year on January 1, thousands of Dalits march to the Jaystambh (Victory Memorial) at Koregaon Bhima, about 30 km from Pune, to mark the occasion.