New Delhi: Relaxing the bail conditions of Milind Ekbote – a Hindutva leader accused in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case – regarding his weekly attendance at the police station, a Pune court on Monday allowed him to attend public rallies and speak to the media.
Ekbote was charged with inciting anti-Dalit violence that left a man dead during an event to commemorate the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on January 1, 2018. He was later booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Another Hindutva leader, Sambhaji Bhide, was a co-accused in the FIR.
While Bhide was never arrested with the Maharashtra government withdrawing all six cases against him citing “lack of evidence,” Hindu Ekta Aghadi leader Ekbote was arrested by the Pune rural police in mid-March – soon after the Supreme Court turned down his anticipatory bail plea.
According to an Indian Express report, the court just weeks later released the right-wing leader on bail – which was conditional on the fact that he reports to the concerned police station every Monday. He was also asked not to pressurise witnesses in the case and give his passport to the police. Ekbote was further barred from speaking to the media and addressing public rallies.
The Wire earlier reported that the complainant in the case had accused the police of watering down the case against Ekbote. The Pune rural police filed a chargesheet after a mere 48 hours – based only on the statements of ten witnesses and the complainant. In addition, these statements are identical, according to the chargesheet.
A few months ago, Ekbote had sought relaxation in the conditions regarding his weekly attendance at the police station and restrictions on speaking at public rallies and press conferences.
While several opposed the application saying his alleged offence is of a serious nature, additional sessions judge A.N. Sirsikar passed an order in Ekbote’s favour.