PUNE: Pune rural police on Friday questioned Hindu Ekta Aghadi leader Milind Ekbote, one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. Ekbote, who has been granted an interim protection from arrest by the Supreme Court, was summoned to the Shikrapur police station in the district.
A case has been registered against him and another pro-Hindutva leader, Sambhaji Bhide, at the police station for allegedly inciting the anti-Dalit violence that left a man dead near Bhima Koregaon war memorial in the district on January 1. “The Supreme Court has directed us to file a report before the March 14 hearing, and it has asked us to investigate the case, so on Friday we summoned Ekbote and questioned him,” said additional superintendent of police Sandip Pakhale. Police will again call Ekbote for questioning, he added.
“We want his custodial interrogation, and we will fight it out in the Supreme Court,” the police official added. Asked if Ekbote was cooperating, Pakhale refused to comment, only saying that police will file the report in the apex court. Ekbote was questioned for over three hours before he was allowed to go, said another police official.
Dalits heading for 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon came under attack on January 1. Ekbote and some other pro-Hindutva leaders had earlier opposed the celebration of the battle. Dalits in Maharashtra celebrate the victory of East India Company forces over the Peshwa’s Army in the 1818 battle, as the Company forces included soldiers from the Dalit Mahar community. The Bombay High Court, on February 2, rejected Ekbote’s anticipatory bail plea. His plea is now pending before the Supreme Court.