NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of right-wing leader Milind Ramakant Ekbote, the prime accused in the January 1 Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra in which one person was killed and a large number injured.
A bench comprising Justices M B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta rejected his plea taking into account the submissions of Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for Maharashtra, that 177 person were injured in the incident and Ekbote was the "main person" instigating the mob.
"The case is pending against you. You are creating communal violence. What is this? You are spreading communal disharmony," the bench told the counsel representing Ekbote.
During the hearing, Ekbote's counsel said the state has already filed a status report before the court and the apex court had earlier granted him interim protection from arrest. He argued that Ekbote was not arrested till date despite the fact that he had gone to the police station five times.
When the counsel claimed that the accused was not present at the spot at the time of violence, the bench said "You can create problems without sitting over there.Have you heard about social media? A person sitting in the US can do it here."
The apex court had on February 7 granted him protection from arrest till February 20 and sought a response from the state government on his plea. It had on the last date of hearing extended the interim protection till today.
The Maharashtra government, in its affidavit filed through advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, had sought dismissal of Ekbote's anticipatory bail plea, saying "the petitioner has not been cooperating in the investigation by giving improbable or unscrupulous information which cannot be by any stretch of imagination relied upon. It is submitted that custodial interrogation is inevitable considering the peculiar circumstances of the present offence."
According to the police, a court in Pune had on February 6 issued an arrest warrant against Ekbote, who was booked for allegedly inciting violence on January 1 during an event to commemorate the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.
A case was registered against Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, who head the Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan respectively, for allegedly "inciting" violence that left a man dead near Bhima Koregaon.
Subsequent protests had disrupted normal life in Mumbai. The Bombay High Court had on February 2 rejected Ekbote's anticipatory bail plea. Before that, a Pune court had also rejected a similar plea by him.