Bhima-Koregaon Violence: Hindutva Leader, Milind Ekbote, Main Accused Arrested After SC Rejected Bail Plea
Milind Ekbote, the Hindutva leader from Pune, who is the main accused in the January 1 Bhima Koregaon violence was arrested on March 14. He is accused of choreographing the violence during the 200th year celebrations of battle of Koregaon Bhima near Pune.
Ekbote was out on anticipatory bail granted by the Supreme Court (SC) until March 14. This was despite his plea for anticipatory being rejected at a special court in Pune, in January.
Milind Ekbote arrested in relation with Bhima-Koregaon violence
Advocate Nishant Katneshwarkar, who is the the standing counsel for Maharashtra in the SC said, ”Application of Milind Ekbote for an anticipatory bail has been rejected after consideration of the status report filed by the state on the case. He can be arrested anytime.” It was confirmed by the Pune Rural Police that Ekbote was arrested from his residence on March 14.
Two FIRs were registered against Ekbote and another Hindutva leader Manohar alias Sambhaji Bhide from Sangli for their alleged role in violence at Koregaon Bhima. The FIRs were registered by two Dalit activists – Anita Salve on January 2 at Pimpri Police Station and another at Yerwada Police station by activist Sushma Andhare. Both of these cases were transferred to Pune rural police. The two accused were charged on the grounds of inciting violence, attempt to murder and atrocity against Dalits. Sections 153 (a), 120 (b) and 117 of IPC were additionally invoked against Ekbote.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on March 13 that all the cases except the serious ones related to the Bhima-Koregaon will be withdrawn. While speaking in the Legislative Council, Fadnavis said that the loss of property worth Rs 13 crore during the violence will be compensated by state government. He said “We will form a committee under Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) to assess serious offences that were committed during the episode. This committee will submit recommendations to a cabinet sub-committee which will then decide whether the serious cases (too) should be withdrawn. The committee will submit its report in three months.”
In clashes that broke out on January 1 during celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, one person was killed and five others injured. The violence in Bhima Koregaon village, about 40 km from Pune in Maharashtra, gradually spread to nearby villages as individuals with saffron flags reportedly pelted stones and thrashed vehicles.
Lakhs of people were going to the village to celebrate the victory of Dalit Mahar soldiers against the Peshwa. On January 1, 1818, these soldiers of the British army fought with great valour and stopped Peshwa Baji Rao II from attacking Pune. The Peshwa were said to have instituted oppressive caste practices.
The violence resulted from an altercation between two unidentified groups near the memorial of the British-era battle.