Solapur Police lathi-charge Sambhaji Bhide supporters

The supporters were performing a Dugdh Abhishek (torrent of milk pouring) ritual as a show of support for their leader who has been embroiled in a controversy over his remarks on Mahatma Gandhi

Representative image of lathi-charge (Photo: Getty Images)
Representative image of lathi-charge (Photo: Getty Images)

Nadeem Inamdar

The Solapur city police on Wednesday lathi-charged over 250 Dharkaris (staunch followers) of far-right Hindutva ideologue Manohar Bhide alias Sambhaji, also known as Guruji, after they staged a massive protest against the police administration.

Eight to ten of Bhide's supporters had gathered at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Chowk to perform the Dugdh Abhishek (torrent of milk pouring) rite on the bust of the Hindutva leader which was objected to by the local police and they were taken into custody. The supporters had decided to conduct the rites as a show of support to their leader who has been embroiled in a controversy over his remarks on Mahatma Gandhi. 

As the dharkaris came to know about the incident, they, under the aegis of Shivpratishthan Hindustan, gathered in large numbers outside Faujdar Chawadi and raised slogans against the police and demanded their release. 

The policemen sensing the situation went out and resorted to a lathi charge to shoo away the crowds. As the tension increased, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dr Santosh Gaikwad visited the spot to have a dialogue with the irate supporters but they were in no mood to listen. Later, the police placed a huge bandobast at Chhatrapati Shivaji Chowk and intensified patrolling the city. Solapur police maintained that dharkaris had taken out a motorcycle rally for supporting Bhide Guruji without permission. 

Solapur City Commissioner Rajendra Mane when contacted told the National Herald, “We had earlier issued notices to seven persons belonging to Bhide’s group under Sections 68 and 69 of the Bombay Police Act as we did not give them any permission for the rite. Later they came in larger numbers and protested outside the police station. Despite repeated attempts to pacify them, they did not listen after which the police had to lathi-charge to disperse them. We have lodged an FIR against them later,” he said. 

Two First Information Reports (FIR) against the right-wing leader have been lodged at Thane and later at Amravati for his derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi. In the past, too, Bhide has received flak for his controversial utterances leading to widespread condemnation by different political parties and social organisations.

A day after violence was reported in Bhima Koregaon on Jan 1, 2018, Dalit activist Anita Sawale filed an FIR against Bhide and another right-wing leader Milind Ekbote for instigating the violence which left one person dead and several injured in the aftermath. The Pune rural police later submitted a report to the state government where it dropped Bhide’s name from the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

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