Three arrested for 29-year-old’s murder during Bhima Koregaon clash

The January 1 violence in Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra, in which two Hindutva leaders stand accused of inciting, claimed the life of a man named Rahul Phatangale.
Dalits activists protest in Mumbai against the violence at Bhima Koregaon in Pune. (Bhushan Koyande / HT Photo)
Dalits activists protest in Mumbai against the violence at Bhima Koregaon in Pune. (Bhushan Koyande / HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 10, 2018 11:21 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By Yogesh Joshi

Police arrested three people on Wednesday in connection with the murder of a 29-year-old during the violent clashes at Bhima Koregaon and nearby villages on January 1.

The suspects were arrested from Ahmednagar district based on video clip, CCTV footage from nearby establishments and audio call records, said superintendent of police (Pune rural) Suvez Haque, adding the three have “admitted to their involvement in the murder”.

Violence had erupted on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon between the British and the Peshwas. Mahars, a Dalit community, had fought alongside the British to defeat the upper caste Marathas.

The January 1 violence, which two Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote stand accused of inciting, had claimed the life of one Rahul Phatangale. Post mortem report said Phatangale died of head injuries from the stones pelted by unidentified youth in the market area at Sanaswadi.

Lawyer Prakash Ambedkar has alleged that the PMO had asked the state not to arrest the two leaders, Bhide and Ekbote.

Following Phatangale’s murder, Shikrapur police booked unidentified youth “bearing blue flags” under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 320.

The police, however, did not disclose their identities. The three have been remanded to police custody for five days.

The immediate trigger for the violence, locals said, was a contentious board put up near the structure believed to be the tomb of Govind Gopal (Mahar) Gaikwad on December 29.

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