Sambhaji Bhide was recommended for Padma Sri by Maharashtra Government!

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: March 3, 2018
Reports have emerged today revealing that Manohar alias Sambhaji Bhide, a right-wing Hindutva leader from Sangli accused of inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1 in Koregaon, had been recommended for Padma Sri award by the BJP government in Maharashtra in 2016.

Sambhaji Bhide
Sambhaji Bhide (foreground, orange turban) is charged with inciting violence at KoregaonBhima. (Courtesy HT photo)

It appears that a ‘high-power’ committee, comprising 10 senior ministers, had recommended his name for the Padma Sri. Curiously enough, the recommendation had been made by the committee using its discretion, even though the government had not received any application for it.

The Hindustan Times report said that the relevant reports were obtained by its team from the state government’s protocol department by filing an RTI application.

Bhide, along with Miling Ekbote was accused of inciting Bhima Koregaon violence by giving inciteful and hate speeches just before the event which was the bi-centenary of the Battlle of BhimaKoregaon. He is a controversial figure who has been active in propagating militant Hindutva ideology and building Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan. He has been rather active in the past three decades in supposedly ‘spreading awareness’ on the life of Maratha warrior king Shivaji.

It is notable that he also faces charges of instigating communal riots in Miraj-Sangli in Sangli district during Ganpati emersion, over an arch sporting a poster depicting the slaying of Afzal Khan. Though a demand was made for his arrest, but the then Congress-NCP government didn’t take any action against him. He also played a major role when his organisation ransacked theatres to protest the film, Jodha Akbar in 2008.

SambhajiBhide is also a former RashtriyaSwyamasevakSangh (RSS) worker.

Every year, an 11-member committee comprising 10 ministers and the secretary of the protocol department, shortlists the names to be recommended for the Padma awards as state entries from the applications they received every year. The committee also has powers to recommend the names that haven’t figured in the applications they receive. The recommendations were sent to the Centre on October 12, 2015.

Coometing on this, Dalit leader and activist, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson said it was ‘intellectual bankruptcy’ on the part of the government to have done this, “Neither Congress-led government dared to arrest him, nor incumbent Fadnavis-led government can arrest him for his involvement even though his name is there in the FIR. The reasons behind it are obvious. The local police had initiated the procedure of his externment after the Sangli riots in 2008,” he said. After the BhimaKoregaon violence, Ambedkar, along with other activists had demanded for his and Milind Ekbote’s arrests. Ekbote already received anticipatory bail by the Supreme Court.

However, when the HT team contacted the committee members, they said that they didn’t feel they did anything wrong by recommending his name, infact they appreciated him for having a motive of ‘building an idealistic youth’

On the other hand, Nitin Chaugule, working president of Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan informed that Sambhaji “refused to accept the award” since it was against his principles and ‘wish’ of Shivaji and SambhajiMaharaj.

Bhide was recommended along with PopatraoPawar, medical field practitioners Dr. Anil Kumar, Dr Rumi FarduBehramji, Dr Aswhin Mehta, Dr Ragini Parekh and actors Prashant Damle and Asha Parekh.

Nomination of Bhide in the past only goes on to show the closeness of Maharashtra government with radical Hindutva outfits and its willingness to appease such people who are essentially a threat to the secular and democratic fabric of Indian society.

Related Articles