MUMBAI: In a bid to put an end on the controversy regarding the arrest of Shiv Pratishthan president Sambhaji Bhide in connection with the riots in Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday told the state legislature that there was no direct evidence against the Hindutva icon showing his involvement in the case.
Fadnavis, however, maintained that the government will not spare any guilty in the riot case, as he replied to a debate on the law and order in the Legislative Assembly.
“The woman who had mentioned in her complaint that she saw Bhide pelting stone has cleared the air. She said she did not see Bhide. She had given the statement based on the talks among the people,” Fadnavis told the house.
“Police have checked call data records of Bhide and prominent members of his organisations for last six months. It shows that neither Bhide nor the prominent workers had visited the spot. They did not even talk to the locals over phone in this period,” Fadnavis said while elaborating on the efforts made by the state police.
However, Fadnavis asserted that the investigation is not yet over. “If it is found that anyone had instigated the violence remotely, even if he is from my family, will not be spared,” he said.
The CM called the attacks on Dalits in Koregaon-Bhima as a ‘blot on the state’. The attacks and subsequently the riots took place primarily because of misunderstanding between two groups, he told the house.
“A group had shouted slogans at a square in Koregaon-Bhima. Other group who was going to pay tribute to the war memorial thought they were shouting against them. It sparked the clashes,” Fadnavis said.
He also denied the charge that the police were caught unaware of the situation and failed to control it. But, admitted that the police deployment at the parking site was not sufficient, which sort of gave a fee hand to rioters who torched vehicles parked there.
Fadnavis also informed the House of his meeting with Bharip-Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar regarding Bhide’s arrest.
He said Ambedkar has provided him the content of a Facebook page that might lead to some evidence against Bhide.
“We will investigate the contents in eight days,” Fadnavis said.
Fadnavis also informed that the state has written a letter to the Union government regarding a ban on the right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha. The previous government had written to the Union government on January 13, 2011 demanding the ban. The Union government had rejected the demand.
“We have written a letter to the Union government on November 13, 2015, with new cases against Sanatan Sanstha,” Fadnavis said.
Meanwhile, Bharip Bahujan Maha Sangha (BBMS) President Adv Prakash Ambedkar too has gone back on his earlier statement that Bhide had actively incited the violence.
“The rioters at Bhima-Koregaon were chanting slogans in the name of Bhide. Hence it was our obvious guess that Bhide incited the riots,” Ambedkar told a TV channel today.
“We have never said that Bhide had active participation in the riots. But, he certainly incited the violence. In our view our accusations are justified,” Ambedkar said adding that the CM should have presented the evidence we had provided him yesterday before the state legislature.