Maharashtra Govt Recommended Sambhaji Bhide for Padma Shri in 2015
A committee, comprising 10 senior ministers, had recommended Bhide’s name for the Padma Shri.
Sambhaji Bhide, one of the prime accused in the 1 January Bhima-Koregaon violence that led to a statewide bandh in Maharashtra, had been recommended for a Padma award by the BJP government in Maharashtra in 2015, according Hindustan Times.
A committee, comprising 10 senior ministers, had recommended Bhide’s name for the Padma Shri according to relevant documents were obtained by HT from the state government’s protocol department under the Right to Information Act.
The committee, headed by Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, had recommended Bhide’s name.
Bhide, along with Milind Ekbote, was accused of instigating communal riots due to Dalits visiting the Bhima Koregaon memorial to mark the 1818 battle between Peshwa's army and the East India Company's forces. The celebrations came under attack on 1 January this year. It led to widespread Dalit protests across the state two days later.
Bhide founded the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, which has been spreading awareness about the life of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji for the past three decades. According to HT, he also faces charges of instigating communal riots in Miraj-Sangli in Sangli district during the Ganpati immersion in 2009.
The organisation members also ransacked theatres to protest the release of Jodha Akbar in 2008, reported HT.
Riots Were State Sponsored: Opposition
The violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district was "state-sponsored," the Opposition alleged in the Maharashtra Legislative Council on Wednesday, 28 February, reported PTI.
Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde (NCP) said never in the last 200 years has social unrest in the state been this high. The Opposition moved an adjournment motion on the issue on Wednesday.
The government is still unable to arrest the two accused. Despite (pro-Hindutva leader) Milind Ekbote’s anticipatory bail plea being rejected by the (Bombay) High Court, he had the audacity to visit the police station and go scot free. This shows how helpless the government is before him and Sambhaji Bhide.Dhananjay Munde, NCP leader, to PTI
NCP's Vidya Chavan demanded that the government withdraw the charges of "murder and dacoity" pressed against "54,000 people" who protested across the state.
Ashok Jagtap of the Congress also termed the violence as a "state-sponsored crime.” Leader of the House and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil urged the members to refrain from making any statement that could vitiate the social atmosphere.
Council chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar said he would allow a two-and-a-half-hour discussion on the issue on a later date.
Culprits Must Pay: Fadnavis
Replying to the Opposition’s allegations, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the culprits would pay for inciting riots and the cost of damage caused by the violence would be borne by the culprits themselves, reported The Asian Age.
In his written reply, Fadnavis said, “The investigation into Sambhaji Bhide’s role in the violence is underway.”
Refuting allegations of inadequacy of policemen to control the situation, he said, “In anticipation of huge crowds at the venue, four times the number of policemen plus the riot control unit and other necessary forces were deployed.”
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