Mumbai: The rally called by right-wing outfit Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan in support of its founder Sambhaji Bhide, accused in the Koregaon Bhima violence, was called off at Azad Maidan Mumbai. The rally was supported by several right-wing organisations including Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Hindu Rashtra Sena.
Although the rally was called in support of Sambhaji Bhide, members of the right-wing organisation also raised slogans in support of Milind Ekbote, president of Samasta Hindu Aghadi, who is in police custody in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case.
Speaking to News18 Balvantrao Dalvi, the Mumbai head of the Shiv Pratishthan, said “False cases have been registered against Bhide Guruji and Milind Ekbote, these cases should be withdrawn immediately.”
Along with posters of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, there were several posters of Dhananjay Desai, chief of Hindu Rashtra Sena. Desai was arrested four years ago in the murder case of 28-year-old Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh and has been in prison ever since. The rally was called off after a delegation of Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan was allowed to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to submit a memorandum.
Supporters of Bhide demanded the withdrawal of cases against Sambhaji Bhide, Milind Ekbote and Dhananjay Desai. The memorandum also stated that organisers and speakers of Elgaar Parishad that was organised in Pune few hours before the violence at Bhima-Koregaon on January 1 are responsible for the violence.
“The provocative speeches made at Elgaar Parishad by several people instigated the violence. Prakash Ambedkar, Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid, Former Justice Kolse Patil, Sudhir Dhavle, Santosh Shinde, Jyoti Jagtap, Harshali Potdar, Maulana Azrani made provocative speeches at the Elgaar Parishad. They should be interrogated and immediately arrested” stated the memorandum that was submitted to the Chief Minister.
Similar rallies were organised in several other parts of Maharashtra including Sangli, the home ground of Sambhaji Bhide, which saw thousands of his supporters on the street.
Supporters of Bhide wanted to carry out a march in Mumbai, starting from Byculla to Azad Maidan, but police denied permission to the march and only allowed a gathering at Azad Maidan.
Pune police also denied permission for a similar rally in the city citing law and order. The rallies in support of Bhide were planned after a gathering of Dalits led by the president of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, Prakash Ambedkar took place in Mumbai on March 26 demanding arrest of Sambhaji Bhide for instigating violence at Koregaon Bhima on January 1. Ambedkar has given a one-week ultimatum to the state government to arrest Bhide.
However, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday told the Assembly that there was no evidence against Sambhaji Bhide in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case.