Arrest Bhide by March 26 or brace for another protest: Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar

Arrest Bhide by March 26 or brace for another protest: Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar
The protests in January had disrupted normal life in Mumbai (Courtesy: Waseem Shaikh)

Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar on Thursday demanded that the Maharashtra government arrest Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, failing which he will launch another protest.

While Hindu Ekta Aghadi leader Milind Ekbote has been arrested, the government is yet to take Bhide into custody.

A case was registered against Ekbote and Bhide, the head of the right-wing outfit Shiv Pratishthan Sansthan, for allegedly inciting the anti-Dalit violence that left a man dead near the Bhima Koregaon war memorial in Pune district on January 1.

The incident took place during an event to commemorate the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. Subsequent protests had disrupted normal life in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra.

The Pune rural police yesterday arrested Ekbote, after the Supreme Court turned down his anticipatory bail plea.

“We give an ultimatum to the government to arrest Bhide till March 26, failing which we will take to the streets,” Ambedkar told reporters today. The protests, like last time, will most likely be held in Mumbai.

He also demanded that the judicial commission, set up under retired Justice Jai Narayan Patel, to probe the Bhima-Koregaon violence be disbanded and a sitting judge be appointed to investigate the incident.

The new committee should be given powers prescribed under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), he said.

He alleged that false cases were filed against those who came out on streets to express anguish over the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1.

Meanwhile, Ambedkar also demanded that all scholarships of students belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) be given on time.

The income limit of the families of SC/ST/OBC students who seek scholarships should be increased to Rs 5 lakh and for the families of students of economically backward class, it should be raised to Rs 10 lakh, he demanded.

Also, the condition of 75 percent attendance for SC, ST, and OBC students to avail the scholarships should be done away with, said the Dalit leader and grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar.

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