Bhima-Koregaon violence: Accused Sambhaji Bhide's supporters protest in Pune for withdrawal of murder case
Supporters of Sambhaji Bhide, one of the main accused in the Koregaon-Bhima caste violence, on Wednesday held a protest in Pune demanding withdrawal of an attempt to murder case registered against him
Pune: Supporters of Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, one of the main accused in the Koregaon-Bhima caste violence, on Wednesday held a protest in Pune demanding withdrawal of an attempt to murder case registered against him.
Members of various right-wing organisations assembled near the river bed near the historic Shaniwarwada for the protest, a day after the police denied them permission to hold a march from the Shaniwarwada to the district collectorate.
"Over 5,000 supporters gathered near the riverbed and staged a protest for withdrawal of a case against Bhinde," said Sanjay Jadhar, Pune district president of the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, founded by Bhide.
He said the administration allowed some representatives to hand over a memorandum of their demands to district collector Saurabh Rao.
The mother of Rahul Phatangade, who was killed during the clashes between Dalits and Marathas on 1 January, also took part in the protest in Pune and sought stringent action against the culprits.
Bhide (85) and another Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote were booked on 2 January, a day after the violence, under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and under various sections of the IPC including attempt to murder as one person was killed in the clashes.
Ekbote was already arrested by the police after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the Supreme Court.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar had alleged that Hindu Ekta Aghadi and the Shiv Pratishthan were responsible for the caste clashes.
The violence had occurred at an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon in which the British Army comprising Dalits had defeated the Peshwas.
A large section of Dalits view the historical battle as the defeat of the 'casteism' of upper-caste Peshwas.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday told the Assembly that there was no proof of the involvement of Bhide in connection with the violence.
Bhide, who hails from Sangli district in western Maharashtra, has been maintaining that he was not present at the spot on the day of the incident and was away to attend MLA Jayant Patil's mother's rituals.