Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday attacked the BJP-led government at the Centre for handing over the inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon violence case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) saying thast it was afraid that truth will come out.
Pawar, who had recently asked the Maharashtra government to seek a fresh probe into the case by a special investigation team (SIT), told reporters that the state has all the right to probe this matter. ''What was the reason to transfer the case in haste? They were afraid that truth will come out,'' he said a day after the Centre transferred the Bhima Koregaon violence case to NIA.
Pawar strongly defended the intellectuals and asserted that speaking against injustice was not Maoism. ''It is unfair to put people in jail by labelling them Maoists,'' he noted.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in Nagpur also accused the Centre for its suo moto decision to transfer the inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon case to the NIA. ''It seems the Centre by transferring the case to NIA wants to save some people. There was no communication from the Centre before handing over the case to the NIA. When the state government was trying to find out the real reason behind the case, the Centre unilaterally decided to transfer the case to the NIA which is against the Constitution,'' Deshmukh said.
He further stated that the state government was ensuring that no innocent was convicted. The government is seeking legal opinion to decide future course of action,'' the minister added.
Deshmukh said that Pawar had demanded probe by SIT. He informed that he had also received a number of representations demanding fresh inquiry by SIT. "The Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and I had reviewed the present status of the investigation by the Pune police. We were in the process of appointing SIT for fresh inquiry,'' he viewed.
Congress party has also criticised the Centre's decision. ''Sudden taking over of Bhima Koregaon riot case by NIA after Maha Vikas Aghadi government started reinvestigation into inquiry of Pune police, clearly substantiates conspiracy of BJP,” he opined.
Pawar in his letter had alleged that the erstwhile BJP-led government “abused” its power to book activists and called the arrests of activists a conspiracy. NCP chief termed the arrest of activists in the Elgar Parishad case “wrong” and “vengeful” which should be inquired by SIT headed by a retired judge. He had also demanded that the police officers involved with the arrests be suspended.
Violence had broken out near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial in Pune on January 1, 2018, leaving one dead and several others injured. Dalits visit the memorial in large numbers as it commemorates the victory of British forces, which included Mahar (a subsection of the Dalit community) soldiers, over the army of the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune in 1818.
The Pune Police had filed cases against activists and intellectuals linked to Left and Dalit movements, who had given speeches at Elgar Parishad, a gathering held on December 31, 2017. The activists were accused of inciting violence and were picked up in raids across the country. The police had claimed the organisers of the event had Maoist links. The NIA has the power to take over investigations, which it feels has a bearing on national security.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the Central government took the correct decision to handover the Bhima-Koregaon case to the NIA as this will expose the urban Naxals.