Probe the role of orthodox Hindu bodies, their agents in govt in Bhima Koregaon violence: Prakash Ambedkar
Ambedkar filed an affidavit on Monday, July 24, before the commission of inquiry set up to investigate the violent incidents of January 1 and January 3, 2018, a day after the Elgar Parishad was organised in Pune’s Shaniwarwada
MUMBAI: Nearly five years after the Bhima Koregaon violence in which one person was killed and several others were injured, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar called for an investigation to determine the role of orthodox Hindu bodies and their agents in administration to fuel the caste-based violence.
Ambedkar filed an affidavit on Monday, July 24, before the commission of inquiry set up to investigate the violent incidents of January 1 and January 3, 2018, a day after the Elgar Parishad was organised in Pune’s Shaniwarwada.
Ambedkar said the Parishad was organised to defuse the atmosphere of hatred primarily caused by the Maratha community’s demand to include them in the list of Other Backward Class (OBC) in Maharashtra.
In his affidavit filed before the commission on July 24, Ambedkar also reiterated his demand for recording testimony of the then home minister Devendra Fadnavis, then chief secretary Sumeet Mallick, a member of the commission headed by justice (retired) JN Patel, then superintendent of police, Pune, Suvez Haq and then Pune police commissioner Rashmi Shukla – to fix the responsibility on the agencies that failed to contain the violence and ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future.
Outlining the purpose behind organising the Elgar Parishad, Ambedkar said, the social atmosphere in Maharashtra was disturbed because of demands made by the Maratha community to include them in the list of OBCs in Maharashtra. He said the community had taken out marches to demand for reservation in public employment and education. At the same time, some OBC organisations had also taken out marches opposing the demand to include Marathas in the list of OBCs.
Ambedkar added that retired Supreme Court judge, justice PB Sawant took an initiative and with the help of some social leaders he tried to bring the tension down between the two communities.
After discussions, the Bhima-Koregaon battle anniversary was slated for January 1 – the day on which “communal Peshwa rule” ended – and the day came to be known as the day of social victory.
A platform, namely Elgar Parishad, was created for the same and around 250 like-minded organisations from across Maharashtra participated in the first Elgar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on the Eve of Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din, he said.
A day after the programme, one person died and several others were injured in widespread communal violence, which started in Bhima Koregaon and spread to other parts of the state.
Ambedkar has also urged the commission to probe the role played by Sarpanchas of the villages, which had decided to boycott the function of January 1, 2018 - to commemorate the victory in the historic battle of Bhima Koregaon. He insisted that the commission should especially probe as to who had proposed the boycott and who seconded the proposal.
Ambedkar also demanded that the call details record of right-wing activists, including Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide and their close aides should be examined to find out if they had made any calls to the people residing in 12 villages around Bhima Koregaon.
He also added that in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the superintendent of police, Pune, had claimed that Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote had incited violence and though Ekbote was arrested and Bhide wasn’t, it should be probed if political leaders asked the police not to arrested Bhide.
After the Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon violence, the Vishrambaug police in Pune registered an offence on January 8, 2018, based on the complaint lodged by one Tushar Damgude, a local builder, and several activists like late father Stan Swamy, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Dalit and tribal rights activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Telugu poet Varavara Rao and writer and academic Gautam Navlakha, were arrested in the case.