I am ready to face probe: Bhide Guruji

I am ready to face probe: Bhide Guruji

Amidst growing demands of his arrest by Dalit and Left organisations, Hindutva ideologue Sambhaji Bhide Guruji on Friday said that he is innocent and ready to face any probe.

"I am ready to face any inquiry," Bhide Guruji told reporters at Sangli district in western Maharashtra. "The incident is sad and disturbing," he said.

"The allegations of a conspiracy made against me are completely baseless. I demand the government to investigate this matter thoroughly. Strong punishment must be given to whosoever is guilty," the 85-year-old said.

The two staunch Right-wing ideologues Sangli-based Sambaji Bhide Guruji , the founder of Shree Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan and Pune-based Milind Ekbote, the founder of Samastha Hindu Aghadi, have been accused of the violence at Koregaon Bhima by veteran Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar. "They should be arrested and face the same punishment as Yakub Memon ," demanded Ambedkar, who is the grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the chief architect of Constitution.

Reacting to the charges of Ambedkar, Bhide Guruji said that the charges levelled against me by Ambedkar are false. "Who told Prakash Ambedkar that I am involved...he must tell that (before the inquiry)," he said.

The perpetrators of the violence should face a stern action, he said.

On Thursday night, in a statement, he said, "It is false and untrue that I was present at the riot site in Pune district and was also responsible for it. Prakash Ambedkar has levelled allegations of my involvement in inciting the violence. There should be a thorough investigation into this matter," he wrote.

The Pimpri Police in Pune district had filed a case against Bhide and others under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The violence took place on 1 January at an event to mark the 200th-anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon in which the East India Company's Bombay Native Infantry comprising of Mahar soldiers had defeated the Peshwas. A large section of Dalits sees the historical battle as the defeat of the 'casteism' of upper-caste Peshwas.

Ahead of this, on 29 December, a stone inscribed with text honouring Mahar Dalit hero Govind Gopal Gaikwad was removed from a memorial at Vadhu Budruk, a village nearly 3 kms away from Koregaon Bhima. Govind, a Dalit, had conducted the last rites of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's eldest son Sambhaji, who was killed at the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1689. The Mughals had warned that they would kill anyone who perform the last rites, but, Gaikwad defied the order. He was killed, but Gaikwad emerged as a symbol of Dalit pride and courage for centuries.


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