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Bhima-Koregaon violence: Suspect Milind Ekbote arrested by Pune rural police

SC bench headed by Justice Joseph Kurien on Wednesday rejected the bail plea after Maharashtra government submitted a report in the apex court regarding the ongoing investigation in the case.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2018 16:52 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
Bhima-Koregaon,Milind Ekbote,Samasta Hindu Aghadi
Milind Ekbote (in white scarf and cap) was arrested from his residence at Shivajinagar in Pune on Wednesday by Pune rural police after his bail plea was rejected by SC in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case. (RAVINDRA JOSHI/HT)

Pune Samasta Hindu Aghadi leader Milind Ramakant Ekbote, a suspect in the Bhima-Koregaon violence, was arrested by the Pune rural police on Wednesday afternoon, after the Supreme Court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea.

The right-wing leader was in detention for at least two hours before the Pune rural police issued a statement confirming his arrest. He is likely to be produced at a local court on Thursday.

“Our police units were on a lookout for him already. When our people in Delhi confirmed that the Supreme Court had denied extension of anticipatory bail, a unit moved in,” said Pune rural police public relations officer, Ram Patil, after Ekbote was taken from his house at Shivajinagar in Pune.

Ekbote was arrested from his house at Shivajinagar in Pune. (RAVINDRA JOSHI/HT)

According to Suvez Haque, superintendent of Pune rural police, Ekbote was earlier called for questioning on five occasions. “On each occasion, he was present for the inquiry.” Ekbote’s plea for anticipatory bail was denied by a special court in Pune and Bombay high court, before the apex court granted interim protection to him.

The SC bench of justices MB Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta on Wednesday dismissed Ekbote’s plea taking into account the submissions of additional solicitor general ANS Nadkarni, appearing for Maharashtra government, that objected to his plea saying he was the main person who instigated the mob in the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon violence in which one person was killed and a large number injured.

Rejecting his anticipatory bail plea, the bench remarked: “The case is pending against you. You are creating communal violence. What is this? You are spreading communal disharmony.”

During the hearing, Ekbote’s counsel said the state has already filed a status report before the court and the apex court had earlier granted him interim protection from arrest. He argued that Ekbote was not arrested till date despite the fact that he had gone to the police station five times.

When the counsel claimed that the accused was not present at the spot at the time of violence, the bench said “You can create problems without sitting over there. Have you heard about social media? A person sitting in the US can do it here.”.

On February 7, the apex court had granted Ekbote protection from arrest till February 20 and asked the state government to file its response on his plea. On the last date of hearing, the court had extended the interim protection till March 14.

Violence had erupted after some people pelted stones at cars heading towards the village for the commemoration of 200 years of Bhima-Koregaon war on New Year’s Day. Dalit leaders and workers at the village had alleged that Hindutva activists Ekbote, and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan, instigated the violence.

Following the violence, the police had booked several people, including Ekbote and Bhide, of stoking violence. A case was registered against the duo at Shikrapur police station under Sections 307 (attempted murder), 143, 147, 148, 149, 295(a), 435, 436 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 4/25 read with Sections 3(2)(5), 3(1)(10) of Arms Act.

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published: Mar 14, 2018 16:30 IST