Mumbai: A day after Pune Police arrested five people for alleged Maoist links in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon caste violence, the NCP on Thursday accused the BJP government in Maharashtra of setting a "dangerous precedent" by linking Dalits with naxals.
Addressing a press conference here, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik also alleged that the arrests were "pre-planned" by the government with an intention to save "real culprits".
The Pune Police had arrested five people, including prominent Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, for allegedly having close Maoist links from Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi in connection with the 1 January incident.
All the five were arrested in a case registered against the organisers of Elgar Parishad held in Pune ahead of the Bhima-Koregaon incident.
It is alleged that provocative speeches were made at the Elgar Parishad held on 31 December last year at the historic Shaniwarwada fortification in Pune.
"The arrests of those people who had participated in the Elgar Parishad were pre-planned. Right from the day the violence happened, BJP leaders were giving statements that people from the left wing ideology were behind it," Malik told reporters.
The Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon battle in which British forces, comprising a large number of Dalit soldiers, had defeated the Peshwas who had represented the Maratha empire.
Dalits view the battle as the defeat of "casteist" Peshwas, who were Brahmins.
"The BJP is setting a wrong precedent by linking Dalits with Naxals and claiming that the Parishad was funded by ultras. If the BJP believes that the opposition parties and Dalits are Maoists then there is a grave danger to the integrity of the state," Malik said.
He said the government's real intention was to save Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide — both Hindutva leaders — who he said are the real culprits of the violence.
Police had registered FIRs against Ekbote, who heads Hindu Ekta Aghadi, and Bhide of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan for inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon.
Ekbote was arrested by police on 14 March after the supreme court rejected his anticipatory bail application. He was later granted bail by a sessions court in Pune.
Despite demands by Dalit activists, Bhide was never arrested in the case.
Pune Police had yesterday arrested Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, activist Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, and Rona Wilson from various places.
Malik also took a swipe at bickering allies BJP and Shiv Sena over Wednesday's meeting between Amit Shah and Uddhav Thackeray.
"I want to know about the deal struck between them (Thackeray and Shah). Since the time it joined the state government, the Sena has been saying that the BJP does not value it much. During yesterday's meeting, what value did the BJP president assign to Sena?" he questioned.
He also criticised the BJP for its 'Sampark se Samarthan' (contact for support) outreach campaign in the run-up to the 2019 polls.
"The BJP chief is meeting prominent people, but the party is shying away from submitting a report card of its performance to farmers, labourers, and middle-class people who had voted the BJP to power.
"This is because they know that they cannot face people, as none of the electoral promises have been fulfilled. These meetings with prominent people are nothing but a publicity stunt," Malik said.
Updated Date: Jun 07, 2018 20:04 PM