Mumbai: Response to an RTI has revealed that Maharashtra government has withdrawn six riot cases against Sambhaji Bhide, a right-wing leader and the main suspect in Bhima-Koregaon violence.
The response to query, filed by activist Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh, says the cases against Bhide were withdrawn only six months before the Bhima-Koregaon violence took place on January 1.
Speaking to News18, Shaikh said, "Sambhaji Bhide is termed as a common man in the RTI reply shared by the state home department. Everyone is aware of his political connections. He was spared by the state government. The Fadnavis government has also scrapped FIRs against BJP and Shiv Sena leaders."
In 2008, Bhide, along with several members of his organisation Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, was booked for rioting, stone-pelting and burning tyres and a police vehicle in the Sangli district of Maharashtra. The violence was part of protests that were carried out against the release of film Jodhaa Akbar.
A total of 41 cases have been withdrawn from 2008 to 2018, out of which six were against Bhide. Surprisingly, the procedure of withdrawal started only in June 2017. Eight circulars have been issued till date to withdraw cases against hundreds of people involved in offences like rioting and disturbing communal harmony.
The RTI query also revealed that several FIRs against BJP and Shiv Sena leaders have also been withdrawn by the state government under Section 321 of CrPC. The list of 12 political leaders include top names like Uddhav Thackeray’s Man Friday Milind Narvekar, MLC and Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe, MP and Swabhimani Paksha founder Raju Shetti, and BJP MLA and CIDCO chairman Prashant Thakur.