Mumbai, Pune cops deny permission for rallies in support of Sambhaji Bhide, but Azad Maidan gathering to go on as planned

Pune/Mumbai: Police on Tuesday cited possible law and order situation to deny permission to Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan to hold rallies in Pune and Mumbai in support of Hindutva leader Manohar alias Sambhaji Bhide, one of the main accused in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence of 1 January.

In Mumbai, the Pratishthan wanted to hold a rally from Byculla to Azad Maidan in south Mumbai and from Shaniwarwada to the district collectorate in Pune.

However, police allowed the organisation to hold a gathering at Azad Maidan, a Mumbai police official said. "We have denied permission to the march," said Shrikant Shinde, senior inspector, Vishrambaug police station, Pune.

Pune district president of Pratishthan Sanjay Jadhar alleged the police denied them permission at the "last moment". He said Bhide's supporters would still gather at the riverbed near Shaniwarwada in the city to "express their sentiments" and hold the march. Jadhar said the outfit wanted the case against Bhide to be withdrawn immediately.

Mumbai, Pune cops deny permission for rallies in support of Sambhaji Bhide, but Azad Maidan gathering to go on as planned

File image of Sambhaji Bhide. YouTube screengrab

Bhide (85), who heads Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, 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.

Dalit activists led by Ambedkar on Monday had held protests in Mumbai's Azad Maidan demanding Bhide's arrest. Ambedkar has given a one-week ultimatum to the state government to arrest Bhide.

However, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday told the Assembly that there was no proof of the involvement of Bhide in 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.

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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2018 07:31:08 IST

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