Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said there was no proof of the involvement of right-wing Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide in the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon violence.
Neither Bhide, nor his aides visited the area in the last six months, Fadnavis said, while replying to a debate on law and order situation in the state in Legislative Assembly.
Bhide was also not in conversation with anyone on the phone at the time (of violence), he said.
“A woman claimed that she saw Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote (Hindu Ekta Parishad leader who has been arrested) instigating riots at Bhima-Koregaon. However, investigation did not show any evidence against Bhide,” Fadnavis said.
The woman later gave a statement saying she had never seen Bhide or Ekbote but had heard their names being mentioned by people, the chief minister said.
“In the last six months, neither Bhide nor his close aides went to that area. They did not talk to anyone there. An inquiry is underway anyway,” Fadnavis informed the House.
He said the police took all steps to curb violence during the January 1 commemoration of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War where the army of Peshwa Bajirao II was vanquished by a small force of the East India Company comprising a large number of Dalits.
On the controversy surrounding the death of special CBI judge Brijgopal Harikrishan Loya in 2014, Fadnavis told the House that the media reports in this connection were baseless.
“The story was politically motivated and the Supreme Court order on it would come soon,” he said, adding that even Loya’s family members didn’t doubt the circumstances surrounding his death.
Loya, who was then hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, died of a heart attack in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.
Responding to objections raised by the opposition on Loya’s death, Fadnavis said the judge’s name was not in the register of Ravi Bhavan (the state’s guesthouse complex in Nagpur) as the booking was made by the court retainer, whose signature was there (in the register).
“Loya was accompanied by judges Modak and Kulkarni when he was taken to Dande hospital. The hospital told them that Loya needed treatment in a multi-speciality hospital. He was declared dead after proper evidence,” Fadnavis told the Assembly.
“Judges Modak and Rathi conveyed the news of his death to the family. They, along with a traffic constable, took the body to his village,” he said.
On the disappearance and murder of Navi Mumbai police official Ashwini Bidre-Gore, the chief minister said it was a heinous crime.
“The woman police official was missing for six months but nobody took cognisance of it, which is surprising. Hence, I have asked for an inquiry into the matter,” he told the House.