A day after eight of its cadres were arrested for allegedly assaulting Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad in Aurangabad, the Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh toady said that the party workers retaliated only in "self defence" after they were "provoked". The incident took place last afternoon at Subhedari government guest house where Gaikwad had gone for some official work. "Upon his arrival (at the guest house), Gaikwad gestured to private bouncers who began forcibly evicting the BBM (Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh) cadres who had gathered on the lawns of the guest house for a meeting. Our party workers retaliated only in self-defence as they were provoked.
We strongly believe in the rule of law," said the BBM general secretary J V Pawar. BBM is headed by Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of dalit icon B R Ambedkar. According to the police, Gaikwad was attacked as the BBM workers were suspecting that he had a role in the demolition of historic Ambedkar Bhavan in Mumbai last year. Prakash Ambedkar had filed an FIR against Gaikwad, former chief secretary of Maharashtra, and Madhukar Kamble, trustee of the People's Improvement Trust, in connection with the demolition. When asked about the reason for the presence of BBM cadres at the guest house yesterday, Pawar said that they usually hold their official meetings there as they could not afford to hold party meetings elsewhere for want of funds. "We have been holding meetings at the venue since long, which was never objected to by anyone. Until Gaikwad's arrival at the venue, the cadres led by our Aurangabad district president Amit Bhuigad were not aware of who he (Gaikwad) was," the BBM general secretary said. Pawar also issued a statement saying that the BBM has been locked in a political fight over the demolition of Ambedkar Bhavan and the Budhabhushan Printing Press in Central Mumbai. He stated that Gaikwad was "a pawn in the political fight." However, Pawar didn't specify against whom the "political fight" is continuing. The dalit leader alleged that the BJP-led state government has been "targeting" the parties like BBM which refuse to toe its political line. "The BJP was well aware that the Ambedkar Bhavan case is coming up for hearing in court on April 24 and hence the incident at Aurangabad was planned," he said. Responding to a query how could Gaikwad sustain injuries if the BBM cadres were merely "defending" themselves, Pawar questioned, "how could a injured person walk down to the airport and board a flight to Mumbai.
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