Thursday, 04 Jan, 6.09 am DNA

Bhima Koregaon violence: Prakash Ambedkar calls off bandh, seeks action

Demanding that the state government book right wing leaders Sambhajirao (Manohar) Bhide Guruji and Milind Ekbote for allegedly fomenting the violence against those visiting the Bhima Koregaon war memorial on Monday, Bharatiya Republican Paksha-Bahujan Mahasangh chief Prakash Ambedkar warned it was Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' responsibility to ensure that the state remain peaceful.

Ambedkar, a former Lok Sabha MP and grandson of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, who had called a state-wide bandh in Maharashtra on Wednesday with Left and Dalit- Bahujan groups, withdrew the shutdown call at about 4:30 pm.

"I tried to keep things in control as long as they were in my hands. Henceforth, it will be the responsibility of the chief minister to see if Maharashtra remains calm or not... We had also associated with different groups with whom our differences have not ended. I cannot guarantee if they will continue listening to me," said Ambedkar.

However, he denied that Wednesday's bandh had seen violence and arson which led to state transport and BEST buses being damaged.

"There are some Hindutva groups whose only agenda consists of spreading anarchy," Ambedkar alleged, demanding that Bhide and Ekbote, who lead Shivaprasthistan Hindustan and Samasta Hindu Aghadi, be arrested. He sought that like Yaqub Memon, who had been given the death sentence in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case, the duo be charged for murder and tried for culpability for violence against those who were flocking to the Bhima- Koregaon war memorial on January 1.

Charging that these Hindutva groups did not seek a mandate from the people unlike political parties but chose to put their agenda across through extremist means, Ambedkar said it was for the people to decide if they wanted peace or violence to prevail in the country.

He added that apart from Dalits, the smaller OBC groups who felt left out and exploited in the caste matrix, had joined the commemoration of the Battle of Koregaon in 1818 where a small British force consisting of Dalit soldiers had defeated a larger army of the Brahmin Peshwas in a turn of events that led to the decline and end of the Peshwa regime. The Peshwa regime, especially that of the final Peshwa Bajirao II, is said to be characterised by caste oppression.