22, Jan 2022 | CJP Team
CJP has sent a plea to the Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil seeking stringent action against Milind Ekbote, a repeat hate offender and main accused in the Bhima Koregaon riots of January 2018. On January 12, 2022, Ekbote was granted bail in a case of hate speech by a Sessions Court in Pune despite being a repeated offender in hate crimes.
The plea urges the state government to take cognisance of the proposal of chargesheets against him and also to oppose his bail in appeal considering the latest case against him where he has been charged with making speech that incites hate.
The plea also makes mention of the Haridwar ‘Dharam Sansad’ case to emphasise upon why the State needs to take strict action against hate speech and adopt a policy of ‘zero tolerance on hate related crime’. The letter says, “… we are of the view that no incident of hate speech should be let off easily and not in a case where the offender is a person like Ekbote who has been accused of rioting and disturbing public peace in the past and has been on the radar of Pune Police for a long time.”
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The recent case of hate speech against Ekbote took place on December 19 at a program held at Natubag maidan, Pune, to mark the occasion of the killing of Afzal Khan by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, where Ekbote made hate inciting and hurtful statements against Muslims and Christians.
The letter states in detail the case made out against Ekbote in the Bhima Koregaon riots case where two FIRs were filed against him, and even though he was arrested, was eventually granted bail by a Pune court. The plea also makes mention of a secret report of the Pune Police which stated that Smabhaji Bhide and Ekbote allegedly roped in Hindutva ultras to create unrest. The document further states that Milind and Ekbote’s men also posted about the violence on social media and were aware about the clashes since 16 December 2017.
The plea further details the many cases pending against Ekbote and the action pending in each of them to enable the state government to take urgent action against Ekbote who is a hardened criminal, and one who has committed repeated crimes without criminal action of much consequence against him. Ekbote has 12 cases of rioting, trespassing, criminal intimidation, and attempts to spread enmity between two communities against him and has been convicted in 5 of these cases.
“Looking at the antecedents of Ekbote and his history of acting against the law, no court should be granting him bail ideally. Moreover, it is important that now that the court has granted him interim bail, the matter is pursued vigorously by the State (including the prosecutors and investigating officers) to ensure that Ekbote is put behind bars at the earliest which will not only serve as an example that the state of Maharashtra is serious in tackling cases of hate speech unlike other BJP-ruled states but also to prove as a deterrent for all those self-proclaimed right-wing leaders who think they are above the law,” states the letter.
CJP urges the Home Minister “to expedite the proposal for filing chargesheet against Ekbote in an FIR related to the Bhima Koregaon riots case which has been received from Pune Police in January 2021 and was submitted to then Home Minister Shri Anil Deshmukh who confirmed the same to the news media. We also urge the state government to take serious cognizance of the fact that a repeat offender like Ekbote has been granted bail time and again and is roaming free despite having been accused of serious crimes like rioting and hate speech.”
The letter to the Home Minister may be read here: