Hindutva activist Milind Ekbote, accused of instigating violence against Dalits at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, was arrested from his home in Pune on Wednesday after the Supreme Court dismissed his application for anticipatory bail, The Times of India reported. Ekbote heads the Hindutva organisation Samasta Hindu Aghadi.
Ekbote had moved the Supreme Court after his anticipatory bail plea was turned down by two lower courts. The Bombay High Court rejected his application on February 1, and a court in Pune rejected it on January 22.
On January 1, clashes broke out during the bicentenary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. Lakhs of people gather every New Year’s Day to commemorate the victory of the East India Company – whose troops comprised mostly Mahar soldiers – over the Brahmin Peshwa-led Maratha Empire in 1818. The violence erupted after some people, reportedly with saffron flags, pelted stones at cars heading towards Bhima Koregaon for the celebrations.
Dalit leaders and workers at the village alleged that Hindutva activists Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide had instigated the violence. On January 2, Dalit groups protested in Mumbai. The unrest led to the death of a youth.