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Bhima-Koregaon violence: Maharashtra minister blames 'outsiders' for instigating trouble, insists villagers are living in harmony

Mumbai: Maharashtra minister of state for social justice Dilip Kamble has blamed "outsiders" for instigating trouble in Bhima-Koregaon and nearby areas of Pune district on 1 January in which one person was killed.

Countering the Opposition's charge that the government had failed to take measures ahead of the bicentennial event to commemorate the Bhima Koregaon battle, Kamble said adequate police force was deployed anticipating a huge crowd.

Protests raged in Mumbai and Pune on Wednesday. Image courtesy: Team 101 reporters

Protests raged in Mumbai and Pune on Wednesday. Image courtesy: Team 101 reporters

One person was killed in the clashes, apparently between Marathas and Dalits. The violence had sparked protests across the state on 2 and 3 January.

The minister, who was at the spot on the day of the violence in Bhima Koregaon, said as soon as a group of people began throwing stones from the other side of the state highway, the state reserve police force (SRPF) was called in to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.

He said villagers of Wadhu Budruk have been living in peace and harmony for many years as the areas around the war memorial witnessed development due to people visiting the place.

"The trouble began with some outside miscreants putting up a flex hoarding at the site of the tomb of Ganpat Gaikwad with objectionable references aimed at instigating a conflict with the upper castes," the Dalit leader said.

Dalits claim that it was Gaikwad and not Marathas who had performed the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj, the son of Chhatrapati Shivaji, who was tortured to death by Aurangzeb.

When stone pelting began on 1 January, Kamble found himself in the middle of two warring groups. Asked to comment on the alleged role of Shiv Prathishthan Hindustan's Sambhaji Bhide Guruji and Hindu Ekta Aghadi's Milind Ekbote, the minister said they were not involved in the conflict.

"The work of Bhide is restricted to the conservation of forts built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. While Ekbote's role was restricted to the preservation of the memorial of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj," he said.

Kamble said the real culprits and conspirators would be exposed during the judicial probe ordered by the government. He denied that the incident would adversely impact the ruling BJP in coming elections.

Updated Date: Jan 05, 2018 08:17 AM

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