In a significant development, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday gave a clean chit to right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide alias Bhide Guruji in the January 1 Bhima Koregaon riots, saying that there was no evidence to prove the latter's involvement.
"Based on a complaint lodged by a woman, police had registered a case against Bhide Guruji. The complainant's statement was recorded in camera before a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. She told the Magistrate that she had not seen Bhide Guruji taking part or instigating the riots. She had named Bhide Guruji as an accused based on a speculation that was on in her locality," Fadnavis said while replying to a discussion in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on the law and order situation in the state.
Fadnavis' statement comes a day after Dalit leader and Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh President Prakash Ambedkar addressed a huge Dalits' rally and demanded the arrest of Bhide Guruji for his alleged role in the Koregaon Bhima violence.
Maintaining that the police had not closed the investigation in the case against Bhide Guruji, Fadnavis said, "During the investigation, it was revealed that the GPS locations of the mobile phones of Bhide Guruji and "eight to ten" of his associates showed that they were not in the vicinity of Bhima-Koregaon when the riots took place. However, the state government has not closed the investigation against Bhide Guruji and his associates."