Mumbai: The Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar on Thursday announced a long march in the city on March 26 to press for the arrest of right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide for his alleged involvement in inciting violence at Bhima-Koregaon on January 1.
Mr Ambedkar warned that if Mr Bhide was not arrested before March 26, all 250 organisations, which had earlier organised the Bhima-Koregaon ‘Shourya Din,’ would start an agitation in the city. The issue of Mr Bhide’s arrest was also raised in the legislative council on Thursday with opposition members demanding his arrest.
The opposition asked the government why it was not taking any action against Mr Bhide. Since they were not allowed to speak by the council chairman, they stormed the steps of the Vidhan Bhavan and raised slogans against the government. Mr Ambedkar too was present in the Vidhan Bhavan on Thursday, where he alleged that the state government is not serious about the investigation into the Bhima-Koregaon violence. “We have been continuously demanding the arrest of Mr Bhide. They arrested Milind Ekbote only after Supreme Court order. That is why we are warning the government to arrest him before March 26, else we will protest in Mumbai,” he said. MLC Kapil Patil was with him and supported the agitation plan.
The apex court had, on Wednesday, passed strong strictures on the police investigation as well as Mr Ekbote. The police acted as soon as the SC made its remarks and arrested Mr Ekbote in Pune. The opposition parties have termed it as the government’s failure and given all credit to the SC for the arrest.
Meanwhile, moving a special discussion motion on the issue in the council, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLC Vidya Chavan and Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Prof Jogendra Kawade said the government should act strictly against Mr Bhide. “You should have made the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide long back. But state government is saving him. Mr Ekbote was also being saved, but the SC came to the people’s help. If the state government is really not helping the perpetrators of the Bhima-Koregaon violence, then it should have arrested Mr Bhide long back,” she said.
But council chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar did not allow this issue to be discussed in the house as it had been discussed on Tuesday. Interestingly, Mr Fadnavis did not mention Mr Bhide by name during his reply. Opposition members too had not pressed for his clarification.