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Bhima-Koregaon violence "state-sponsored crime": Opposition


Press Trust of India Mumbai
The violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district on January 1 was "state-sponsored", Opposition alleged in the Maharashtra Legislative Council today.

Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde (NCP) said never in the last 200 years the social unrest in the state was as high (as it is now), and a particular atmosphere was created which led to the violence in which one person died.

Opposition moved an adjournment motion on the issue today.

Dalits visiting the memorial of an 1818 battle between Peshwa's Army and the East India Company's forces at Bhima Koregaon came under attack on January 1 this year. It led to widespread Dalit protests across the state two days later.

"The government is still unable to arrest the two accused. Despite (pro-Hindutva leader) Milind Ekbote's anticipatory bail plea being rejected by the (Bombay high) court, he had the audacity to visit the police station and go scot free. This shows how helpless the government is before him and Sambhaji Bhide (also accused of inciting the violence)," Munde said.

He further claimed that during the combing operation undertaken by the government after the violence led to protests by Dalits on January 3, over 6,000 persons were arrested and slapped with serious charges.

NCP's Vidya Chavan demanded that the government withdraw the charges of "murder and dacoity" pressed against "54,000 people" who protested across the state on January 3.

People's Republican Party member Jogendra Kawade said those with "anti-national mindset" were being backed by the government, and the whole incident was a "state-sponsored crime".

Dalits were put behind bars in the aftermath of the violence, and the government deliberately didn't allow police to act despite having information that some people could do mischief during the January 1 commemoration of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, he alleged.

Ashok Jagtap (Congress) also termed the violence as a "state-sponsored crime".

Leader of the House and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil urged the members to refrain from making any statement that could vitiate the social atmosphere.

Council chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar said he would allow a two-and-a-half hour discussion on the issue on a later date.

Dalits in Maharashtra celebrate the victory of East India Company forces over the Peshwa's Army in the 1818 battle, as the Company forces included soldiers from the Dalit Mahar community. The victory is seen as an assertion by Dalits against the age-old upper-caste oppression.

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First Published: Feb 28 2018 | 9:15 PM IST

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