Leader Accused Of Instigating Bhima-Koregaon Violence Denies Involvement

The violence that occurred near the war memorial at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district on January 1 had triggered a sharp reaction from Dalit organisations, which called for a shutdown in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra.

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Leader Accused Of Instigating Bhima-Koregaon Violence Denies Involvement

The violence that occurred at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune triggered a sharp reaction from Dalit organisations

Mumbai:  Pro-Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, accused of instigating the violence against the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, today denied that he had any role in the episode.

The violence that occurred near the war memorial at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district on January 1 had triggered a sharp reaction from Dalit organisations, which called for a shutdown in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra.

Mr Bhide, who heads the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan outfit, said he was willing to face any inquiry in this regard.

"Order a judicial or a CBI probe. Appoint Lord Yama himself to head any machinery to probe the violence. I am prepared to face any probe. All allegations against me are baseless and the truth will come out after the probe," the octogenarian told reporters at Sangli in western Maharashtra where he had a considerable following.

On January 2, a day after the violent clashes, the Pune police had lodged a case under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Mr Bhide and others.

Dalit leaders celebrate the victory of the forces of the East India Company over the Peshwa's army in the battle of Bhima-Koregaon in 1818 as the British forces also had Dalit Mahar soldiers in their ranks.

Some pro-Hindutva outfits had opposed the celebrations this year.

In a related development, the Cantonment police in Aurangabad, which had registered a case against Samast Hindu Aghadi leader Milind Ekbote and Mr Bhide in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence, today transferred it to the Shikrapur police station in Pune district, where cases were already lodged against the two.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Vinayak Dhakne said as per the complainant, Jayashree Ingle, when she was visiting Bhima-Koregaon for paying obeisance at the war memorial, some 20-25 people hurled stones at the vehicle, in which she and her family were traveling.

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