Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state Assembly on Monday that remarks by Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan chief Sambhaji Bhide, that the Manusmriti was superior to the teachings of saints Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram, would be investigated.
Fadnavis said the government was bound by the Indian Constitution and the teachings of the saints, PTI reported. “An inquiry would be conducted if any unconstitutional or illegal comments were made and proper action would be taken,” he added.
The chief minister’s comments were in response to Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar’s charge that Bhide’s comments were condemnable, and that he should be arrested for “provoking” the youth. Pawar demand a response from the government.
“Human beings are animals, but what makes them different is the religion that they follow since animals don’t have the idea of religion in them,” Bhide said on Saturday, purportedly quoting from the Manusmriti while addressing supporters, Pune Mirror reported. “You need to be able to control your mind. Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram told us the way for this. But Manu was a step ahead of these saints. Only the religion can save the country.”
Bhide and another Hindutva leader, Milind Ekbote, were booked earlier this year after violent clashes broke out between Dalit and Maratha groups at the celebrations in Bhima Koregaon village near Pune, leaving one person dead. 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 Ekbote and Bhide had instigated the violence. On January 2, Dalit groups protested in Mumbai. The unrest led to the death of a youth.