MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Friday rejected anticipatory bail application filed by Milind Ekbote -- the prime accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Ekbote had moved to the High Court earlier this week after a Pune Court rejected his plea last week.
The police had invoked sections 153 (a) (Giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) and Sections 117 (Abetting commission of the offense by the public or by more than 10 persons) against Ekbote. In his petition, Ekbote said that all the charges filed against him are false and he is being wrongly implicated. He demanded that they be quashed on the basis that he was not present at the spot when the riots broke out, and as such, he has no role to play in it.
He has also been charged under the Prevention of Atrocities (POA) act.
After the special court in Pune rejected his bail plea on January 22, Ekbote filed a petition before the High Court. On Wednesday, a bench comprising of Justice B R Gavai and BP Colabawala recused from hearing the plea and it had to be shifted before the Bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre and was scheduled for a hearing Friday.
The prosecution told the court that the police have evidence that on December 30 (a day prior to the violence), Ekbote was present at a hotel about 4 km away from Bhima-Koregaon. His call data records (CDR) show he was in contact with several other accused persons in the case.
Ekbote had 17 previous cases of atrocities registered against him and public property worth Rs nine crore was vandalised during the violence, the prosecution added.
The bench then rejected the Samasta Hindu Aghadi leader’s plea and observed that the Pune court’s observations made while rejecting his plea could not be ignored.
Meanwhile, in a major breakthrough, the Pune rural police have arrested another 40 villagers for alleged involvement in Bhima Koregaon violence.
“All of them surrendered at the police station without any pressure,” said police inspector Ramesh Galande of the Shikrapur police. The police had created a coordination committee of villagers and appealed locals to come forward to avoid arrests of innocent people. The police had also intensified combing operations based on the CCTV footage. All these efforts have led to arrest of 72 people in the case so far, the police have said.