Bhima Koregaon accused Milind Ekbote sent to police custody

On Thursday, March 15, 2018 a Pune court sent Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote to police custody till March 19. Ekbote has been accused of inciting the attack on the Dalit community that took place on January 1, 2018 in Bhima Koregaon, near Pune. Ekbote was arrested on Wednesday, March 14, after his plea for anticipatory bail was rejected by the Supreme Court. 

Milind Ekbote

In January, Dalit activists Anita Salve and Sushma Andhare filed FIRs against Ekbote and another Hindutva right-wing leader, Manohar ‘Sambhaji’ Bhide, aka Guruji, accusing them of inciting, planning and coordinating the attack that took place during the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Anglo-Maratha War. In this war, a small East India Company force, that largely comprised Dalit soldiers, defeated Peshwa Bajirao II’s army, making it an important event in Dalit history. 
Charges against Ekbote include provoking the riots, rioting armed with deadly weapons, unlawful assembly, criminal conspiracy, and defiling places of worship with intent to insult religion, among others. Previously, the Pune Rural Police had summoned him in at least five separate instances, but Ekbote had presented himself only once, and then allegedly failed to cooperate with the investigation. 
Ekbote’s applications for anticipatory bail were denied first by the Pune Sessions Court and then the Bombay High Court, after which the former issued an arrest warrant for him. The Supreme Court eventually granted Ekbote interim bail, but only until March 14; the court also chastised the state government for the investigation’s slow progress. The state government said in its report to the Supreme Court that Ekbote was not cooperating with the investigation. His anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, Justice Kurien Joseph, and Justice M. B. Lokur.



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