Mumbai: Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar warned the government, “Don’t force us to come to you again for the same demand of arrest of Sambhaji Bhide in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Violence.” Ambedkar and several other leaders called for an ‘Elgar Morcha’ demanding the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratishthan for his alleged role in the Bhima-Koregaon violence on New Year’s Day this year. Ambedkar and his followers gathered at Azad Maidan.
Earlier, they had requested for a morcha between Byculla to Azad Maidan, but permission was denied on the grounds that it would disrupt traffic but allowed the rally at Azad Maidan.
Addressing the protesters, Ambedkar demanded that the government arrest Bhide in eight days’ time. “The government is not arresting Bhide because of his close links with Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Ambedkar said.
“The police have arrested Milind Ekbote after Supreme Court’s directives, but Sambhaji Bhide is a prime accused in the violence and Ekbote is second, but the police arrested the second accused first,” Ambedkar said.
During the rally, Ambedkar warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, “We are aware of all the things done when you (Modi) were chief minister of Gujarat. If you don’t order the arrest of Bhide, then the dead bodies may speak.” He also alleged that Modi is imposing dictatorship and behaving like Hitler.However, Ambedkar received the support of Sambhaji Brigade, an organisation of Maratha youth. Shrimant Kokate, a leader of the Sambhaji Brigade, demanded that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should be held responsible for Bhide roaming free despite being named in several FIRs for the attacks on Dalits on New Year’s Day.
“If Bhide is not arrested, Fadnavis should be put behind bars because he is responsible (for the former roaming free),” Kokate said.
The Bhima-Koregaon violence broke out over Dalit groups observing the 200th anniversary of the Anglo-Maratha war where the army of Peshwas was defeated by soldiers of the East India Company. Several Dalits, who were part of the East India Company’s troops, were killed in the battle.