A special court in Pune on Thursday ordered the district collector to make arrangements for the video recording of court proceedings in the January 1 Koregaon Bhima violence case. The court also extended the judicial custody of Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote, who was arrested in the case on March 14, until April 4, which is the next date of hearing in the case.
Ekbote (60), founder of Samasta Hindu Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide (85), founder of Shri Shiv Pratishthan, have been booked under charges of orchestrating violence during celebrations on January 1 to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon, near Pune. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had on Wednesday said in the state assembly that police have no proof of Bhide’s involvement, adding that the probe in the case has not ceased.
The court of Special Judge Pralhad Bhagure was hearing a plea from an intervenor in the case, Sanjay Bhalerao. Advocate Nitin Satpute, representing Balerao, said, “As per the amended Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, all proceedings have to be video recorded, including bail hearings. Therefore, in the nature and circumstances of the case, it has become necessary to video record proceedings.” The court accepted the plea and directed the district collector to make necessary arrangements for the same.
The court rejected other demands like monitoring the case by the court. “The police are investigating the matter. There is no reason and ground for me to monitor the investigation. Without any reason, if court tries to monitor the investigation, it would be interference in the duties and rights of the police agency, which is not permissible,” the court observed.
Another demand by the intervenor, to allow narco-analysis test of Ekbote is yet to be decided by the court. It can be recalled that two women Dalit activists had come forward, whose statements had led to an FIR being against Bhide and Ekbote. While one activist Anita Salve said in her statement that she saw Bhide and Ekbote at the place where violence took place, the other activist said that the duo orchestrated the violence through their followers.