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Ambedkarites Should Not Be Branded As Naxals, Says BJP Ally Ramdas Athawale

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawle said he will speak to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis regarding the arrest of five Dalit activists.

On Wednesday, Pune Police arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling, Marathi magazine publisher Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Dr Shoma Sena and Mahesh Rout in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence case. The police also said that according to searches conducted in Nagpur, Delhi and Mumbai, they have alleged links to Naxal groups.

Athawle told The Hindu, “Ambedkarites should not be branded as Naxals. The Bhima Koregaon incident has no connection with the Elgar Parishad. I feel that those arrested have no connections with Naxals, and I will speak to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for a thorough investigation into the matter.”

Athwale added that some demands of Naxal groups were supported by Dalit activists. “We are opposed to violence,” he said.

“I want to appeal to the young followers on Ambedkar that they should not have any association with the Naxal movement. If those who were arrested yesterday have no connection with the Naxal movement, then I will definitely try to help them,” he said.

Athawale is head of a faction of the Republican Party of India, a party (united entity) that was founded by Dr B. R. Ambedkar.

Responding to the minister’s statement, Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said, “The minister has dismissed all these theories [on the role of Ambedkarites in Naxal violence]. He says all these people (arrested activists who have been branded as Naxal sympathisers) are working for Ambedkar ideology. He has rejected all these theories of investigation like charges of Naxalism and the diary recovered etc.”

“Either the minister is correct or the police investigations are on the right track. In that case, the minister should be removed from the Council of Ministers. The government must clarify its stance,” The Hindu quoted Gohil as saying.

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