Right-wing Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide should be arrested within a week for inciting the January 1 riots in Bhima-Koregaon, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar said here on Monday.
Addressing the ‘Elgar Morcha’, taken out with the demand to arrest the Shiv Prathishthan founder, at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, Ambedkar said, “the BJP-led government in Maharashtra should not protect Bhide and arrest him in seven-eight days for inciting the anti-Dalit violence. The government should do its duty and not that of a court”.
Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, said, “If the number two accused in the case– Hindu Ekta Parishad leader Milind Ekbote–has been arrested, why has Bhide been let off the hook?”
“I am aware that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is shielding Bhide,” he said.
“On Chhatrapati Shivaji birth anniversary, Modi had tweeted his photo along with that of Bhide. By doing so, he was sending out a signal that Bhide should not be touched,” Ambedkar, who later went to Vidhan Bhawan to discuss his demands with the government, told reporters.
Traffic in south Mumbai was affected this morning due to the rally. Traffic congestion was reported on Mahapalika Marg and D N Road.
The rally participants assembled at Azad Maidan after police denied permission for the march from Rani Baug in Byculla to Azad Maidan.
Ambedkar said the reason for denial of permission to the march was ongoing school board examinations and avoiding inconvenience to students and office-goers.
Bhide and Ekbote are in the spotlight for allegedly “orchestrating” violence in January against Dalits during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War where the army of Peshwa Bajirao II was vanquished by a small force of the East India Company that comprised a large number of Dalits.
A youth was killed during the caste clashes, triggering protests across Maharashtra.
Ekbote has been arrested in connection with the case.