Milind Ekbote, a Hindutva leader accused in one of the cases of Koregaon Bhima violence, was granted relief by a court in Pune on Monday by relaxing conditions regarding weekly attendance at police station, speaking in public rallies and talking to the media. Accused Milind Ekbote was booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act following a complaint lodged by Anita Savale, a Dalit woman. Another Hindutva leader, Sambhaji Bhide, was a co-accused in the FIR.
While Bhide was never arrested for “a lack of evidence”, Ekbote was arrested by Pune Rural police on March 14, 2018, after the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea. However, the court later released him on bail on April 4, 2018, on conditions that he should report to the concerned police station every Monday, not pressurise witnesses in this case, submit his passport to police, not speak to the media and not address any public rally.
Meanwhile, police arrested Ekbote in another case lodged by assistant police inspector Nitin Shivaji Lakade, who got injured during the violence on January 1. He got bail on April 19 and was released from Yerwada Jail. Then about four months ago, Ekbote had filed an application before the court through his lawyers, S K Jain and Amol Dange, seeking relaxation in the conditions regarding attendance at the police station and restrictions on speaking in public rallies and press conferences.
The prosecution as well as the defence lawyers, Jitendra Kamble and Surendra Janrao, representing Savale and another victim, Bhimabai Tulve, had opposed Ekbote’s application on grounds that the offence against him was of a “serious nature”, a chargesheet had not yet been filed, the investigation was on and that relaxing these conditions might “hamper” the work of the Koregaon Bhima Inquiry Commission.
However, additional sessions judge A N Sirsikar passed an order in favour of Ekbote. The court said Ekbote was not required to attend the Shikrapur police station every Monday, but he was directed to make himself available as and when called by the investigating officer.