PRAKASH Ambedkar, president of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, alleged on Sunday that the Prime Minister’s Office has directed the Maharashtra government to not arrest pro-Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote of Samast Hindu Aghadi, and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan.
An FIR was recently lodged against the two with Pimpri police under charges of orchestrating violence during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
“One of the ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis government told me that directives have come from the Prime Minister’s Office to not arrest the two Hindutva leaders,” Ambedkar told The Indian Express on Sunday.
“I don’t understand the silence of the government in the case, even days after filing of the FIR…The government has not even condemned those behind the violence…why is the government trying to protect people who tried to divide two communities?” he added.
Ambedkar further alleged that the Dalit leaders and workers who had gathered near Bhima Koregaon to mark the Battle saw Bhide and Ekbote in the area. “Our leaders and workers had seen them in the area,” he claimed.
About the two leaders denying being in the area on that day, Ambedkar said, “Why is the police keeping quiet? They should reveal the location of the two Hindutva leaders on the day the area was wrecked by violence…it will make things clear.”
He added that despite the fact that “police were aware that huge number of people would turn up for the event, there was hardly any preparation to avoid an untoward incident”. “In fact, I have learnt that the Chief Minister was also in Karjat, which was some 100 km away from Bhima Koregaon. He could have easily directed the police to take precautionary measures…,” he said.
Ambedkar also claimed that the violence was “pre-planned”. “It turned into a Hindu versus Hindu battle even as the police failed to bring the situation under control. The Dalits were at the receiving end, they were attacked mercilessly just when they sought to celebrate 200th year of their victory in Battle of Bhima Koregaon.”
Meanwhile, another Dalit leader, Ramdas Athavale, president of the Republican Party of India (A), sought action against whoever proven guilty in the judicial probe ordered by the state government. He said, “Whoever they may be, whether Bhide or Ekbote, they should be arrested if found guilty in the probe.”
Like Ambedkar, Athavale, too, termed the violence as “pre-planned”. He, however, refused to blame the state government for “failing to prevent the violence”. “The government did whatever it could to move the state machinery into action. It will not be appropriate to blame the government,” he added.
Meanwhile, Anjana Gaikwad, one of the complainants against Bhide and Ekbote, said a sit-in agitation was being planned on January 11 outside the District Collectorate to demand the arrest of the two. “Till the government arrests the duo, our agitation will continue…We will not withdraw the complaint despite any amount of pressure,” she said.