Caste tension

Dalit leader alleges PMO shielding Bhima-Koregaon mastermind

sambhaji-bhide-narendra-modi-twitter Sambhaji Bhide (right) with Narendra Modi | Twitter

Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar, on Monday questioned the failure of Maharashtra Police to arrest rightwing Hindu activist Sambhaji Bhide, who has been booked for allegedly inciting the Bhima-Koregaon violence.

"We have been demanding the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote (another leader booked for the Bhima-Koregoan violence that took place early this month) but to no avail," Ambedkar said at a press conference in New Delhi.

He claimed that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had given an assurance that Bhide would be arrested.

"But now, we hear from the corridors of power that the PMO has ordered the state government not to arrest Bhide," the former MP alleged.

Ambedkar also released a purported video of Bhide, in which the former RSS worker claims that he told Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wear a saffron turban while delivering his Independence Day speech from the Red Fort in August 2014.

The authenticity of the video could not be verified.

Ambedkar also released another video clip in which Modi is purportedly heard saying, "I am thankful to Bhide guruji (Sambhaji Bhide) because he did not send me an invitation. He ordered me.”

The prime minister was referring to an event he was participating in Maharashtra.

The Bhima-Koregaon caste violence, which rocked several parts of Maharashtra early this month, saw large-scale arson.

Ambedkar warned that "if Bhide is not arrested, he will be emboldened and ... will become the Hafiz Saeed of India", a reference to the leader of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has undertaken several terror attacks in India.

Bhide, 85, who heads Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, has been accused of instigating violence against the dalit community in Pune district. He has denied the allegations.

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