A delegation of the Nationalist Congress Party on Tuesday met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to demand that the new state government withdraws cases against all Dalit protesters in connection with the violence at Bhima Koregaon in January 2018, reported The Times of India. The NCP is part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government led by Thackeray.
“Thousands of youngsters were falsely implicated by the previous government in the Bhima-Koregaon violence,” said NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad. “Ambedkarite youths were on the road to oppose the communal propaganda. I request the chief minister to withdraw the cases against these innocent youngsters.”
NCP MLC Prakash Gajbhiye, who was part of the delegation, said there was no reason to target them. “These cases will destroy the lives of those youngsters,” he said. “I request Uddhav ji to consider rolling back cases against them,” he said, according to The Hindu.
Violence broke out in Bhima Koregaon village near Pune on January 1, 2018, between Dalits and Marathas. A bandh called by Dalit outfits the next day to protest the violence also saw incidents of vandalism. The police filed 58 cases against 162 people during the state-wide shutdown.
According to the police, the violence on January 1 was triggered by a meeting called the Elgar Parishad, which was organised the day before in Pune to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy. Later that year, the police filed a chargesheet against 10 people, including five activists, on charges of inciting the mob.
On Monday, NCP MLA Dhananjay Munde wrote to the chief minister, demanding a rollback of cases in the Bhima-Koregaon violence. Munde claimed the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led government had slapped “false cases”, reported PTI. He alleged that the earlier government “harassed” intellectuals, activists, social workers by labelling several of them as “urban Naxals”.
He also asked Thackeray to drop the cases against youngsters from the Maratha community. “Their agitation was to seek jobs and education,” he wrote, according to The Hindu. “But the previous government filed cases against them, and the youngsters and their families are under tremendous pressure. The positivity shown by the government in previous cases is required in this case as well,” he said.
The NCP’s request came days after Thackeray announced the state would drop cases against Nanar refinery and Aarey Metro car shed protesters.