A judicial commission investigating the Bhima Koregaon case on Friday summoned former chiefs of the Mumbai and Pune Police, Param Bir Singh and Rashmi Shukla, to appear as witnesses in the matter, Live Law reported.

The case pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident. Sixteen human rights lawyers, professors, poets and tribal rights activists had been arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.

Singh was additional director general (law and order) of the Maharashtra Police at the time of the violence, while Shukla was chief of Pune Police.

On Friday, Justice (retired) JN Patel who heads the two-member Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry, passed an order to issue summons to the two police officers. Singh and Shukla have been asked to respond to the summons by November 8, according to The Indian Express.

The judicial inquiry committee’s lawyer Aashish Satpute had filed an application contending that the two officers should be called as witnesses to give statements on the intelligence inputs they might have received on the Bhima Koregaon violence.

Singh and Shukla are currently embroiled in separate controversies.

Singh had accused former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of extorting money from owners of bars, restaurants and hookah parlours in Mumbai. In April, the Bombay High Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations.

The Mumbai Police have booked him in four cases of extortion in this matter.

He also faces five first information reports filed by the Thane Police under the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe (Atrocities Prevention) Act.

The whereabouts of Singh have been unknown for a while now. There is speculation that he might have fled India.

Meanwhile, Shukla has been accused by the Maharashtra government of intercepting calls of ministers of the state Cabinet without permission.

Bhima Koregaon violence

The first chargesheet in the case was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June 2018.

The police claimed that those arrested had “active links” with banned organisation CPI(Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One of the accused, 84-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, died in custody in July. Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, was repeatedly denied bail despite his deteriorating health condition.

Currently, 14 activists and academicians are in custody in connection with the case. They have been jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the case without any reliable evidence.

A supplementary chargesheet was filed in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy.

The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.