Sambhaji Bhide, BJP, Shiv Sena leaders cleared in cases, reveals RTI
RTI activist Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh obtained information about the dropping of cases from the Maharashtra Home department. He had earlier moved the State Information Commission after the government initially denied him the information.
Three cases registered against Sambhaji Bhide and his followers for violent protests against the screening of Hindi film, Jodha Akbar, in 2008 have been withdrawn.(File Photo)
The Maharashtra government has withdrawn cases against Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan (SPH) head Sambhaji Bhide and members of the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, according to information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Three cases registered against Bhide and his followers for violent protests against the screening of Hindi film, Jodha Akbar, in 2008 have been withdrawn. He is among over 2,300 people against whom cases have been dropped. Bhide was again in news for allegedly inciting violence against Dalits in Bhima-Koregaon near Pune in January.
RTI activist Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh obtained the information about the dropping of the cases from the state Home department. He had earlier moved the State Information Commission after the government initially denied him the information. It was not immediately clear when the cases were withdrawn.
State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who heads the committee that has dropped cases against Bhide, defended the move. He said the decision was taken as per the set norms and that Bhide was not the only one against whom cases have been withdrawn. Shaikh said six cases were withdrawn against Bhide, but the home department has the records of three, officials said.
Shiv Sena’s Neelam Gorhe, Anil Rathod, Ajay Choudhari and BJP leaders Sanjay Bhegde, Prashant Thakur, Vikas Mathkari are among those against whom cases have also been dropped. Gorhe had been booked after an audio clip, in which she was reportedly directing party workers to resort to violence, was leaked in 2010.
Two cases against Swabhimani Paksha MP Raju Shetti, who was part of the BJP-led government for three years since 2014, have also been dropped.
The Mungantiwar-led panel was formed in August 2016 after the Maharashtra government decided to withdraw cases in political and social protests registered until November 2014. It held seven meetings in the last two years and proposed to drop 41 cases. Of them, 14 were against the legislators and leaders of the BJP and Shiv Sena.
Police superintendent Sandeep Patil said none of the cases withdrawn relates to Bhima-Koregaon. He said that the investigation into the violence there was in progress.
Another right-wing activist Milind Ekbote was arrested but Bhide was not even questioned in the Bhima Koregaon case despite having been named in the case. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said there was no evidence of his role in the violence.
The Opposition parties slammed the government over the withdrawal of the cases. “By withdrawing the cases against Bhide, the government has endorsed that the right-wing leader has its backing. The government has given clean chit to him in Bhima Koregaon case and now it has started withdrawing pending cases against him,” said Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.
Source: The Hindustan Times, Oct 02, 2018