Thursday, 04 Jan, 6.09 am DNA

Bhima Koregaon violence: Maratha groups claim to back Dalit protests

Despite the exposed fault lines between Dalits and Marathas that led to the Maharashtra bandh on Wednesday, at least two Maratha groups claimed they had extended their support for the statewide shutdown.

Leaders of the Sambhaji Brigade and Sakal Maratha Samaj said their organisations had extended support to the strike, and had decided not to be divided along caste lines in the future, either.

Purshattam Khedekar, president of Maratha Seva Sangh, said he had given whole-hearted support for the bandh, called by Prakash Ambedkar, leader of Bharip Bhahujan Mahasangh.

"However, Maharashtra government should immediately arrest Manohar Bhide and Milind Ekbote who were the masterminds behind the Bhima-Koregaon clashes in whiche a Maratha youth also died," Khedekar said.

Saying Marathas and Dalits have lived together peacefully for decades, he said

"The divide and rule policy of RSS has fallen flat."

Professor Liladhar Patil, president of Sambhaji Brigade for north Maharashtra region said he had planned to join Dalits in a march at Bhima-Koregaon but could not make it. "However, those who went from Jalgaon, to them we gave all financial and logical support. We follow the progressive thought of Shahu-Phule-Ambedkar. We will never succumb to the false propaganda of Milind Ekbote and Manohar Bhide," he said.

Ranjeet Shinde, another Bahujan leader said that this time RSS failed to divide the Maratha and Dalit's on caste lines. "People are more smart now. You can fool some people for some time, but cannot fool all people, all the time.," he said.