Fadnavis gives clean chit to Sambhaji Bhide

‘Available evidence and eyewitness accounts do not prove his involvement in Bhima-Koregaon riots’

March 28, 2018 12:49 am | Updated 12:49 am IST

Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday gave a clean chit to Sambhaji Bhide, the main accused in the Bhima-Koregaon riots, a day after thousands of protesters held a march at Azad Maidan demanding the Hindutva leader’s arrest.

Mr. Fadnavis informed the Assembly that the available evidence and eyewitness accounts do not prove Mr. Bhide’s involvement in the violence that led to the death of one person in Pune on January 1. Mr. Bhide and Milind Ekbote, the Hindu Ekta Aghadi leader who is now under arrest, were named in the FIR.

The CM, however, accepted that the sloganeering by a group of 200 near Bhima-Koregaon led to commotion between two groups. He did not specify whether action was taken or anyone from that group has been arrested.

Mr. Fadnavis said, “We have checked the call detail record, and found that in the last six months, neither Mr. Bhide nor his close aides had been to Bhima-Koregaon or talked to anyone there.”

The CM said the police had taken all measures to curb the violence. “A woman lodged a complaint alleging that she saw Mr. Bhide and Mr. Ekbote instigating the mob. However, there is no evidence against Mr. Bhide yet. Later, the woman retracted her statement, and said she had never seen Mr. Bhide or Mr. Ekbote during the violence.”

Mr. Fadnavis said the inquiry is not yet over. “On Monday, Prakash Ambedkar [leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh] presented new evidence based on a Facebook post. I have ordered the police to look into the evidence within eight days. No one will be spared as the clashes are a blot on Maharashtra.”

‘Politically motivated’

Mr. Fadnavis said the demand for a probe into Judge Loya’s death is politically motivated. “Since the case is with the Supreme Court, I would not want to comment on it.” The CM said media reports on the circumstances leading to Judge Loya’s death are false. “None of the family members found anything suspicious in his death till a magazine carried the story. The allegations made by the media are fictitious.”

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