CALLING A statewide bandh on Wednesday, Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar blamed Hindu right-wing outfits for the clashes on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Rejecting that Tuesday’s clashes reflected the divide between Marathas and Dalits, Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, said, “If there was any tension between Marathas and Dalits, the event at Bhima Koregoan could not have been held. The Sambhaji Brigade, a Maratha outfit, was also among those which organised the event at Bhima Koregaon.”
Addressing the media on Tuesday, he accused Hindu outfits for the violence. “Sambhaji Bhide of Shivraj Pratishtan, Milind Ekbote of Samast Hindu Aghadi and one man from Manjari are the main conspirators behind the violence. The government should decide what to do about them. This is the first time names behind the violence are being given and the government should act on it,” Ambedkar said.
Accusing the police of inaction, he claimed those involved in the clashes had links with the ruling parties.
Ambedkar said the Maharasthra Democratic Front, the Left Democratic Front and the Jatimukt Aandolan Parishad as well as the Sambhaji Brigade and 250 other organisations would participate in Wednesday’s bandh. “To condemn the violence, we have decided to call a peaceful bandh on Wednesday across the state,” he said.
He said the judicial probe ordered by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was not sufficient. “The government only wants to hide behind an inquiry. If the state government really wants an inquiry, it should request the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to appoint a sitting judge to probe the incident. Besides, the judge should have powers to gather evidence and punish the culprits,” he added.
Ambedkar claimed Vadhu Budruk village was the epicentre of the violence. “The people who came for the Bhima Koregaon event had nothing to do with the Vadhu Budruk controversy, where the memorial of Gopal Gaikwad, who reportedly performed the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj, was vandalised. There was a dispute between villagers and the government. But activists of these organisations pelted stones from buildings and burnt vehicles…,” he added.
However, Ekbote refuted the allegations. “It is an unfortunate incident. We condemn the death of a person, the violence and the inconvenience to lakhs of people. Some divisive forces are trying to malign me and the organisation. There are a large number of Dalits in our organisation. We don’t consider Dalits different from us. Raising a hand against our own people never comes to our mind,” said Ekbote in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Maratha Kranti Morcha issued a statement condemning the incident. “Lakhs of community people and activists of progressive organisations were at the event. We condemn the cowardly attack on the people,” said Virendra Pawar, convenor of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, Mumbai.