Controversial right-wing Hindu activist Sambhaji Bhide — already under fire for allegedly instigating violence against the Dalit community in Pune — has sparked yet another controversy by calling for a review of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
"The government should seek the opinion of elected representatives, social scientists and intellectuals on how to make the act effective and how to contain its misuse," The Times of India quoted Bhide as saying.
Bhide's remarks may worsen caste tension in Maharashtra, where Marathas also plan to revive their protest for job reservation and a review of the SC and ST Act.
Bhide, 85, is known among his followers as Bhide Guruji. He is a staunch right-wing Hindu activist and an ardent admirer of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He has a sizeable following in western Maharashtra.
A former RSS member, Bhide founded the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan outfit, which is mostly active in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts in western Maharashtra.
Bhide attracted national media spotlight when at an election rally in Sangli district in October, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he had come to seek blessings of 'Bhide Guruji', whom he said had been an "inspiration" during the early days of the prime minister's life.
Bhide's outfit also works for the conservation of forts in Maharashtra. In June last year, Pune Police had registered a case against Bhide and his followers for obstructing 'waari', a procession of varkaris (pilgrims) to Pandharpur.
Bhide uses a bicycle to travel and remains barefooted, no matter where he goes. He travels in state-run buses and does not own a house.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jan 09, 2018 14:55 PM