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Bhima Koregaon violence: HC refuses interim relief to murder-accused trio

The Bombay High Court has refused interim relief on a bail plea by three persons arrested in a murder case linked to the violence that erupted during the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district on January 1.

The three accused, who are lodged in jail since January 10, had approached the high court earlier this week seeking bail.

After hearing brief arguments in the case on Wednesday, vacation judge Bharati Dangre said there was no urgency in the matter and adjourned the bail pleas for further hearing next month.

According to police, a local resident Rahul Phatangade was allegedly accosted by a mob and beaten to death when the violence erupted on January 1.

The violence had erupted during the event to mark 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle, in which forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwas army on January 1, 1818. Some Dalit groups commemorate this victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar community — then considered untouchable — were part of the East India Company’s forces. Dalit leaders and thinkers see it as a victory of oppressed classes over the upper-caste establishment of those times.

In their bail pleas, the three persons said that they were arrested only because the T-shirts they had worn depicted picture of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Several persons had worn similar T-shirts at the event and the police picked up the trio based on a CCTV footage because of their alleged presence near the spot, where Phatangade’s body was found, their bail pleas said.

The petitioners said there was no evidence against them and statements recorded by none of the witnesses mentioned their names or role.

The bail plea further said there was “nothing on record to implicate” them and they have been arrested “only on the basis of suspicion and because of the community” they belong to.

The prime accused in the case, Milind Ekbote, was arrested by the police on March 14, but was granted bail last month by Pune court.

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