Mumbai: The arrest of five activists linking with Elgar Parishad held before Bhima-Koregaon caste riot in January this year on the grounds of alleged link of these activists with the banned Maoist Communist Party has raised questions over legitimate probe by Pune police. The original First Information Report (FIR) filed by Tushar Damgude, complainant against Elgar Parishad had not mentioned the name of accused activists arrested on Monday. Damgude is known as staunch Manohar Bhide follower, chief of Shiv Pratishthan.
Damgude, having business in construction field, stated in his FIR (dated December 31, 2017, mentioning the name of Sagar Gorkhe, Sudhir Dhawale, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor, Deepak Dengale and Harshali Potdar. He had not taken the name of activists including Advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut who were arrested in June by the Pune police.
In a report submitted by Vishwas Nangare-Patil, special Inspector General of Kolhapur division pointed Manohar Bhide, chief of Shiv Pratishthan and Milind Ekbote, executive president of Samasta Hindu Aghadi outfit were responsible for alleged orchestrating the caste riots which had left one person dead at Bhima-Koregaon.
Though the police made Ekbote the prime accused and sent him to police custody after Supreme Court denied him bail relief, Bhide remained free from arrest by the police. Ekbote’s entire family is associated with the RSS. He himself was a BJP corporator in Pune from 1997 to 2002 and was later denied a ticket, so he fought as an independent for a second term and won. He lost the corporation election in 2007 and to stay relevant floated Hindu Ekta Manch in the same year. The Manch has since been at the forefront of anti-Valentine’s Day protests. In 2014, he contested assembly elections on a Shiv Sena ticket and lost. Ekbote’s sister-in-law Jyotsna Ekbote is a sitting BJP corporator in Pune.
Bhide is political guru of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and that is why Prakash Ambedkar, president of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, father of Indian Constitution alleged the state government did not arrest Bhide till date.
In a sudden move, Pune police arrested five more activist from Mumbai, Thane, Hyderabad and Haryana linking them with Maoist organisation and claimed they had funded Elgar Parishad. For activists, who were involved in the Dalit movement and Human rights, police action beyond the FIR registered against Elgar Parishad came as a shock to them.
According to Sumedh Jadhav, leader of Republican Panther, prominent Dalit movement, Tushar Damgude is associated with Manohar Bhide’s organisation and to shield Bhide, police are dancing according to the pressure from state government and RSS who are trying to defame these activists. Ambedkar too said, “it’s a ploy to divert focus from Bhide to so-called ‘urban naxalism’.”