Bhima-Koregaon clashes: Sunday speech of prime accused Sambhaji Bhide postponed
Mumbai cops say the presence of Sambhaji Bhide would have triggered fresh protestsUpdated: Jan 06, 2018 01:01 IST
Following police directives, right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide’s public speech — scheduled to take place in Parel this Sunday — was postponed.
This comes a day after the police refused permission to an event organised by student outfit Chhatra Bharati, at which Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid were to address students at Vile Parle.
Bhide is the prime accused in the Bhima-Koregaon violence. Based on a complaint by social worker Anita Ravindra Salve, a member of the Bahujan Republican Socialist Party, the Pimpri police filed an FIR against him on Tuesday for conspiring and inciting violence.
Police said they decided to deny permission after an assessment revealed that Bhide’s presence in the city would lead to a law-and-order problem and trigger more Dalit protests. They said it would take a lot of effort to pacify protesters. They said that should Bhide make a provocative statement, it would add fuel to the fire and cause tension not just in the city, but also the state.
“As we did not want trouble, we decided to not permit the organisers to conduct the program,” said an officer. Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, the organisation associated with Bhide, announced on Friday that his speech had been postponed, but not cancelled. It denied Bhide’s involvement in the violence, calling the case against him “false and misleading”.
In a statement issued in Sangli, Bhide denied allegations that he was involved in any violence. “The allegations of a conspiracy are completely baseless. I demand that the government investigate this matter thoroughly. Strong punishment must be given to whosoever is guilty.”
“Bhide played no role in the violence. The police still approached us and said we should postpone the talk in case the speech leads anti-social and anti-Hindustan elements to take advantage of the situation and rain violence on Mumbai again. We support the government’s search for the culprits,” said Chetan Balaskar, member of Shiv Pratishthan.
Despite Salve’s assertion that Bhide was at Bhima-Koregaon on Monday, Balaskar said the right-wing leader was at his home town Sangli, which the police could attest to. He blamed Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar for inciting the Bhima-Koregaon violence. “Those who demand Bhide’s arrest are the actual culprits.”
The Chhatra Bharati and the Aam Aadmi Party demanded a ban on Bhide. “This hate monger should not be allowed to enter Mumbai and disturb its peace. He should not be allowed to address any meetings,” said Priti Sharma Menon, spokesperson, AAP.