Mumbai, (The Hindu): Days after protesters held two separate rallies in Mumbai — first tribal farmers and last week, youth seeking employment — the city is likely to witness another protest march on Monday.
This time, protesters are demanding the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide, the alleged co-conspirator of the Bhima-Koregaon riots in January. Prakash Ambedkar, president of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, has given a call for the ‘Elgar March’ from Byculla zoo to Azad Maidan, and has received support from various Ambedkarite and Left groups and parties.
The police, however, have denied the protesters permission to hold the march and have asked them to assemble directly at Azad Maidan instead of disrupting traffic.
Mr. Ambedkar has said the protest march — and the gherao of the Legislature — will go ahead as planned. At a press conference on Sunday, he said, “The government is purposely shielding Sambhaji Bhide from arrest. If Milind Ekbote can be arrested, why can’t Bhide? This devil must be arrested. Whether the authorities permit the rally or not, we are committed to marching towards Azad Maidan.”
Earlier, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operation) Deepak Devraj said organisers were denied permission for the march in view of the ongoing exam season. “Moreover, the protest march will disrupt routine traffic. Though we have denied permission for the march, the organisers have been given permission to hold a programme at Azad Maidan. We appeal to the organisers to not hold the protest march,” Mr. Devraj said.
Mr. Ambedkar termed the decision as unfortunate. “Those who conspired to riot are allowed to roam freely, but those who were beaten up are forced to adhere to restrictions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sambhaji Brigade, one of the key Maratha organisations in the State, has extended support to the Elgar March. “Sambhaji Brigade activists from Mumbai, Pune and Konkan will participate in Monday’s march. We have no hatred against Dalit organisations, but want to see people like Bhide, who are creating rift within two communities, behind bars,” said Santosh Shinde, the Pune district chief of the organisation.
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