A special Pune Court rejected earlier Ekbote’s anticipatory bail application on January 22, which refused to grant him interim protection.
New Delhi: In a huge relief, the Supreme Court on Wednesday granted interim protection to Hindutva outfit leader Milind Ekbote, accused for instigating the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1. A bench comprising of Justices Kurian Joseph and Shantanagouder said if Ekbote is arrested, he would be released on bail on furnishing a surety for `2 lakhs. The bench issued notice to the Maharashtra government returnable on February 20 on the special leave petition filed by Ekbote challenging the Bombay high court’s order rejecting his plea for anticipatory bail.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi representing the petitioner submitted that the HC order rejecting the anticipatory bail was yet to be made available and that the petitioner must be protected from arrest. He also told court that his client has been charged under pressure, as he was not at the site when violence took place and was at home. Counsel for one of the victims opposed granting any relief to Ekbote, who is a former corporator and the president of the Hindutva outfit Samasta Hindu Aghadi. He is also known for cow vigilantism in Pune and its neighbouring districts. A special Pune Court rejected earlier Ekbote’s anticipatory bail application on January 22, which refused to grant him interim protection.
The Pune rural police had invoked IPC Sections 153 (a) (provocation with intent to cause riot), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and Sections 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than 10 persons) against Ekbote claiming that their preliminary probe has found proof of his involvement in the violence. The police had invoked the said sections against him on January 23 and a report regarding the same was submitted to the sessions court in Shivajinagar.
Two FIRs were registered against Ekbote and Manohar, alias Sambhaji Bhide by Dalit activists, accusing the duo of anti-Dalit violence at Bhima Koregaon.