Uddhav Govt’s U-Turn: Now NOC to NIA to probe into the Elgar Parishad case

CM Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai: In a U-turn, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha-Vikas Aghadi government said it has no objection to the National Investigation Agency taking over the probe into the Elgar Parishad case of Pune. The union government transferred the probe in the case from Pune Police to the NIA last month.

When the case was shifted to NIA from the state police, the state government, and particularly the Shiv Sena strongly criticised the union government handing over the case to the NIA and accused the Modi government of “interfering” in the affairs of “non-BJP” Maharashtra.

Questioning the sudden move, the Sena, which heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising the NCP and the Congress, even asked whether the Centre wanted the “truth” in the case to remain uncovered. Accusing the Centre of doing “vengeful politics” in the editorial of the Saamana, the mouthpiece of Sena, the newspaper questioned its ‘selective’ approach towards Maharashtra, a state ruled by Opposition parties.

During the period, the former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also took a strong exception over the move and termed it as a “shocking and suspicious” move.

“Given the way, the Centre handed over the probe to the NIA,

The Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also criticised the Centre’s decision last week, saying the Union government has all rights to step into the probe, but it should have taken the state government into confidence before handing over the investigation to NIA. He pointed out that the case was handed over to NIA when NCP chief Sharad Pawar was demanding a probe into it by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The NIA last week filed an application before a sessions court in Pune, seeking transfer of case papers, seized data, court records and proceedings to the special NIA court in Mumbai. However, the prosecution then opposed NIA’s application, saying the reasons given by the central probe agency in its plea were not legal and sufficient to transfer the case to a special NIA court.

The case is related to speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, and the next day’s violence near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial in the district. The Pune Police claimed that the conclave was backed by Maoists, and the speeches made there triggered the violence.

During the probe, the police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.

The Maratha warlord and the NCP chief Sharad Pawar even alleged that people who were vocal against the Modi government were held after branding them as “urban naxalites.” He insisted for a fresh enquiry into the matter.