Maoists and Hindutva outfits: Bhima Koregaon probe moves ahead in two different directions

Almost eight months after the caste riots broke out in Bhima Koregaon , 40 kilometres from Pune, the probe has taken two routes – one indicating involvement of Maoists and another about the role of members associated with rightwing Hindutva outfits.

While one probe is being carried out by Pune urban police to check on Maoist links to the December 31 Elgar Parishad event in Pune, another probe is being carried out by the Pune rural police in which Samastha Hindutva Aghadi Milind Ekbote and Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan founder Sambhaji Bhide have been booked for ‘orchestrating violence’ in Bhima Koregaon.

Following the first information report (FIR) filed at Shikrapur police station in January this year, police arrested Ekbote. The FIR against Ekbote was based on the complaint from dalit activist Anita Ravindra Salve. Two months later, Ekbote was released by a court on conditional bail.

In the same FIR, rural police also booked Bhide who was later given a clean chit by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. In the FIR, Salve had alleged that she saw Bhide and Ekbote instigating the mob. Later, Fadnavis told the assembly that woman complainant “had retracted her statement saying she did not see Bhide and Ekbote at the spot”.
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Both Bhide and Ekbote have been booked under Sections 307, 143, 147, 148, 149, 295-A, 435 and 436 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 3(1) (10) of the Atrocities Act by Shikrapur police, pursuant to Salve’s complaint..

In the Shikrapur case, police have not yet filed a charge sheet.

In another case registered at Pune’s Vishrambaug police station, police initially booked members of Kabir Kala Manch, a left-oriented dalit outfit, for provocative speeches during Elgar Parishad. The FIR was based on a complaint given by 35-year-old Tushar Damgude, a resident of Katraj.

The latest arrest of five prominent activists as well as those on June 6 have been made under the same FIR which was filed at the Vishrambaug police station.

Damgude, the complainant in this case, has often praised Bhide on his Facebook page. With more than 13,000 followers, Damgude has often criticised members of leftist parties on his Facebook page.

Despite repeated attempts, Anita Salave could not be contacted as her phone was switched off.

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