Maha police drop rioting cases against Sambhaji Bhide

The Maharashtra Police withdrew old rioting cases against right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide, six months before the violence in Koregaon-Bhima near Pune, response to an RTI query has revealed. File photo

The Maharashtra Police withdrew old rioting cases against right-wing leader Sambhaji Bhide, six months before the violence in Koregaon-Bhima near Pune, response to an RTI query has revealed.

The cases were filed against Bhide in 2008 and 2009 in Sangli in western Maharashtra, it said.

According to the RTI response, six cases against Bhide and his organisation were filed following two protests---one against Bollywood movie 'Jodha Akbar' in 2008 and another against an artist's depiction of the assassination of Shivaji in 2009. The protesters indulged in rioting, stone-pelting and burning of several tyres, it said.

A senior police official, however, said Monday the charges against the 85-year-old in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case have not been dropped.

Bhide, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist who heads Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, is an accused in the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon caste violence case.

"The cases against Bhide that were withdrawn were old cases in Sangli and have nothing to do with the Koregaon-Bhima violence," Superintendent of Pune (rural) police Sandip Patil said.

"The investigation in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case, in which Bhide and (Hindu Ekta Aghadi leader) Milind Ekbote are accused, is in progress," the IPS officer said.

Patil said Pune police had in August arrested five activists while probing an alleged Maoist link to a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on the eve of the January 1 violence in Koregaon-Bhima.

"We are waiting for the development in that case, that is why (filing of) charge sheet in our (Koregaon-Bhima) case is pending," he added.

PTI SP SPK VT SRY

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Maha police drop rioting cases against Sambhaji Bhide

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