Witness of Bhima-Koregaon urges to summon Sharad Pawar before Inquiry Commission

Pune : Sagar Shinde, one of the witnesses of Bhima-Koregaon violence case, has filed an application on Thursday before the Bhima-Koregaon judicial inquiry commission (JIC), requesting summoning of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Supremo Sharad Pawar in the matter. The application which was filed by Shinde is expected to come up for hearing before the judicial inquiry commission on February 24. The application filed by Shinde stated, “It looks like Pawar knows more about the violence than what he has mentioned in an affidavit filed by him earlier.”

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The application referred to a press conference addressed by the NCP chief Sharad Pawar on February 18 where, as per the applicant, the NCP chief said that Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide had created a different atmosphere in Bhima-Koregaon area. It looks like Pawar knows more about the violence than what he has mentioned in an affidavit filed by him earlier, the application said. It also mentioned Pawar questioning Pune police’s role.
Violence had erupted at Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018, where supporters had gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. This resulted in the death of one person and left several injured. Subsequently, the Pune police arrested activists such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Vernon Gonsalves, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale and P Varavara Rao for allegedly inciting the Bhima Koregoan violence through their speech at the Elgar Parishad meeting on December 31, 2017.

When the commission was formed, it had invited affidavits from everyone who had any knowledge about the violence following which Shinde filed an affidavit claiming that he was present on the spot at that time. The commission was constituted by the Maharashtra government of vide a notification dated February 9, 2018, under the provisions of Section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 to inquire the reason which led to the violence. On January 1, 2018, violence had erupted during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident. The police have filed 58 cases against 162 people in the matter.

Earlier, the enquiry of the Elgar Parishad was taken by the National Investigation Agency in view of its inter-state involvement. However, the NCP president Pawar suspected the Centre had something to hide about the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra, which is possibly why the probe into the Elgar Parishad case was hurriedly transferred to the NIA. Expressing his disapproval of the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s consent to a probe by the NIA into the Elgar Parishad case, Pawar said that the state would initiate a parallel enquiry into the matter.