Mumbai, Sep 11: The violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon on January 1 this year was pre-planned and Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, who head the Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan respectively, created an atmosphere over a period of 15 years that led to riots, a fact-finding report by a nine-member team stated. The report also accused the police of inaction.
The report said Milind Ekbote held a meeting on December 30 in which the proposal for a bandh in Bhima Koregaon and nearby villages was also discussed. The panel, led by Pune Deputy Mayor Dr Siddharth Dhende, alleged that people in nearby Sanaswadi knew about the violence in advance. It said lathis and swords were brought in the village and water tankers were filled with kerosene a day before the rampage. Bhima Koregaon Case: Activist's Letter Reveals Plot to End 'Modi Raj', Says Maharashtra Police.
“In the meeting, Ekbote appealed that January 1, 2018, be observed as a black day. Plans to observe a bandh in Bhima Koregaon and nearby villages were also discussed in the meeting. On December 30, 2017, the villagers of Bhima Koregaon decided to observe a bandh on January 1, and submitted a letter to this effect to the police,” the report stated, as reported by Mumbai Mirror.
The report also said Ekbote had founded the Dharmavir Sambhaji Maharaj Smruti Samiti to distort the history of Vadhu Budruk and Govind Gaikwad – a Mahar hero who had performed the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
“A board near Sambhaji Maharaj’s samadhi detailing the work done by Govind Gaikwad was replaced with a new one [omitting information about him], and [RSS founder] KB Hedgewar’s photo was put up. There was no need to put up Hedgewar’s photo at the samadhi. It was a deliberate move that created a rift between the upper and backward castes. If the police had taken action, the untoward incident could have been avoided,” the report stated. 'Urban Naxals': Who Are Being Referred to and Why is the Term Trending After Bhima Koregaon Raids?
Accusing the police of inaction, the report stated that several calls were made to senior officers about violence which were not taken seriously. It also said some officers in civil dress saw people with saffron flags marching towards Bhima Koregaon. Instead of stopping them, the officers were walking with them, the report alleged.
“The police were witness to the violence and arson but did not take any steps to prevent it. The assailants kept saying, ‘Don’t worry, the police are with us’," the report said. It also mentioned a Facebook post that warned about a “riots-like situation” in Bhima Koregaon nearly 20 days in advance. It ruled out the possibility of Elgar Parishad's role in the riots.
“We have given proof that it was pre-planned violence, and had nothing to do with the Elgar Parishad, as had been alleged. The history of Bhima Koregaon and surrounding areas shows that Dalits and Marathas did not previously have animosity. But Bhide and Ekbote twisted the historical narrative to create communal tension. We have mapped a chronology to establish the involvement of Hindutva forces,” Dhende told the newspaper.
The report has been submitted to the inspector general of police, Kolhapur range. The members of the team will soon depose before the Bhima Koregaon Commission.