The Bombay High Court on Friday rejected the anticipatory bail application of Milind Ekbote, the leader of the Hindutva outfit Samasta Hindu Aghadi, that is accused of inciting violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, ANI reported.

Ekbote, whose anticipatory bail application was rejected by a court in Pune on January 23, had approached the High Court on Monday. On Wednesday, Justice Bhushan Gavai of the Bombay High Court had recused himself from hearing the plea.

Two First Information Reports – one in Pimpri and another in Aurangabad – were filed against Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, who leads the organisation Shiv Pratishthan. Dalit leaders and workers who had gathered in Bhima Koregaon near Pune alleged that they had seen Bhide and Ekbote in the area. The two Hindutva leaders have denied this.

A preliminary report prepared by a 10-member fact-finding and co-ordination committee has said that the violence against Dalit activists was planned and members of radical Hindutva groups were involved in it. Pune’s Deputy Mayor Siddharth Dhende, who led the committee, said there was sufficient evidence against Ekbote and Bhide proving that they had instigated the violence against Dalits.

Bhima Koregaon clashes

Lakhs of people gather at Bhima Koregaon near Pune every New Year’s Day to commemorate the victory of the English, whose troops comprised mostly Mahar soldiers, against the Brahmin Peshwa-led Maratha Empire in 1818.

Clashes broke out in Bhima Koregaon and its surrounding areas during celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, after some people, reportedly with saffron flags, pelted stones at cars going towards the village.

A man was killed in the violence, which subsequently spread to Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra over the next couple of days, with protestors calling for a bandh across the state. A 16-year-old teenager was crushed to death on January 3 in Nanded city while trying to escape the police during the unrest.