Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of BR Ambedkar and president of the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday, ANI reported. Ambedkar said that he had submitted evidence of Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide’s role in instigating violence against Dalits during the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon to the chief minister.
The Dalit leader said that the state government had assured that action would be taken within eight days. “Therefore, the government is trying to reach Bhide,” he added.
Members of the Dalit community gathered at Azad Maidan in Mumbai earlier on Monday, after the police denied them permission for a march to demand the Bhide’s arrest in the case, Firstpost reported.
Ambedkar was present at Monday’s demonstration, called the Elgaar march, attended by over 10,000 people. Ambedkar had demanded that Bhide be arrested by March 26, warning of an agitation if the Maharashtra government failed to do so.
The protestors were to march from south Mumbai, from Rani Baug in Byculla area to Azad Maidan in Fort area. But the Mumbai Police had denied permission for a protest march citing the ongoing Class 10 examinations and traffic problems.
However, Ambedkar said he was informed that permission was denied only at 4 pm on Sunday and it could not be communicated to everyone. “The people across the state, who wanted to join the march, had already left for Mumbai and now some of them are walking from Byculla,” he added.
Hindutva activist Milind Ekbote, also accused of instigating the Bhima-Koregaon violence, was arrested on March 14 after the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea. On Monday, Ambedkar asked why Bhide had been let off if Ekbote could be arrested, PTI reported.
The Dalit leader accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of shielding Bhide. “On Chhatrapati Shivaji’s birth anniversary, Modi had tweeted his photo along with that of Bhide,” Ambedkar said before visiting the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai to meet Fadnavis. “By doing so, he was sending out a signal that Bhide should not be touched.”