Right-wing Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide alias Guruji on Monday demanded the arrest of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar and others for allegedly inciting the riots of January 1 in Bhima-Koregaon and its subsequent fallout.
Speaking to the media, Bhide, who is the head of Shri Shiv Pratishthan, alleged that the roots of the riots lay in the ‘Yalgar Parishad’ (conference) organized by various groups on December 31 in Pune.
Among the speakers at the conference were Ambedkar, Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, JNU student leader Umar Khalid, retired high court judge, Justice B. G. Kolse-Patil and other leftist-Dalit personalities.
“At this meeting, all these leaders including Ambedkar had provoked people for violence and rioting. We demand that the government must immediately arrest them for the Bhima-Koregaon riots,” Bhide demanded.
He also sought a brain-mapping test of all the concerned persons, including Ambedkar to unravel the truth behind the casteist disturbances that rocked Bhima-Koregaon followed by a Maharashtra shutdown on January 3.
Besides booking them for the riots and the shutdown, Bhide said that state government must recover the cost of the damages incurred during the disturbances.
“It’s more than two months now. Why the government has failed to take action against these leaders for perpetrating the violence? Why have they not arrested them?” he asked.
Bhide also asked the government to clarify whether there was any link between the Yalgar Parishad and four Maoists arrested near Mumbai on January 3.
“I have already explained that I have nothing to do with the riots and I have not even gone to Bhima-Koregaon for past four-five years. Ambedkar has been uttering my name only for publicity and I am ready for any enquiry,” he said.
To press for its demands, the Shri Shiv Pratishthan plans to take out a procession of various Hindu organisations on March 28 seeking arrest of Ambedkar and his associates, he added.
Monday’s developments came four days after Ambedkar served an ultimatum to the state government on March 15 demanding the arrest of Bhide by March 26.
Another leader named by Ambedkar – Milind Ekbote – was arrested from Pune in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon incidents last week and has been remanded to police custody till March 21.
Several thousand Dalits from all over Maharashtra had congregated at the Victory Pillar in Bhima-Koregaon on January 1 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the war between a small group of British troops comprising mostly Dalits and the army of Peshwa Bajirao II which was vanquished.
Stone-pelting and rioting led to the death of one youth, and many others injured, besides leading to properties worth around Rs 13 crore being damaged, which the state government has assured to compensate.