A court in Pune on Monday granted relief to Hindutva outfit leader Milind Ekbote, an accused in one of the cases of Bhima Koregaon violence, by relaxing conditions regarding his attendance at police station every week and allowing him to speak at public rallies and press conferences.
Following a complaint by Dalit woman Anita Savale, an FIR was lodged against Sambhaji Bhide and Ekbote under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for their alleged role in the January 1 violence.
Police did not arrest Bhide citing lack of evidence. However, after the Supreme Court rejected Ekbote’s anticipatory bail plea, Pune rural police arrested him on March 14. Ekbote was later released on bail on April 4 on conditions that he report to the police station concerned every Monday, not pressure any witness, submit his passport to the police, not speak to mediapersons and not address any public rally.
Meanwhile, police arrested Ekbote in another case lodged by ASI Nitin Shivaji Lakade, who was injured during the violence. He got bail in this case on April 19 and was released from Yerwada jail.
About four months ago, Ekbote filed an application before the court, seeking relaxation in the conditions regarding attendance at the police station and restrictions on speaking at public rallies and press conferences.
Lawyers representing the prosecution, the complainant Savale and a victim Bhimabai Tulve opposed Ekbote’s application on several grounds — the offence against him is of a serious nature, the chargesheet has not been filed yet, the investigation is not complete and that relaxing his conditions may hamper the work of the inquiry commission.
However, additional sessions judge A N Sirsikar passed an order in favour of Ekbote.
In the order, the court said Ekbote may not be required to attend Shikrapur police station every Monday, but he is directed to make himself available when called by the investigating officer.