The National Investigation Agency has submitted an application before the Pune court that has been hearing the Bhima Koregaon case to seek its transfer to a special court in Mumbai, PTI reported on Thursday. The case, which was earlier being investigated by the Pune Police, was handed over to the agency last week by the Centre, weeks after a new government came to power in Maharashtra.

The investigation agency made the submissions on Wednesday. A defence lawyer in the case confirmed that the NIA had filed the criminal miscellaneous application before Additional Sessions Judge (Special) SR Navandar. The agency asked for the transfer of all records and proceedings of the case to the special NIA court in Mumbai.

The matter will be taken up on February 3. A fresh first information report has also been filed in the case on Monday, ANI reported.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday said that the Centre should not have transferred the case to the NIA without consulting the state government. “Today [Wednesday], we met the advocate general to discuss what should be done after receiving the letter,” he said at a press conference.

Following news of the case being handed over to the NIA, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party had criticised the Centre’s decision. Ten rights activists were arrested in 2018 in connection with the case, when the Bharatiya Janata Party was in power in the state. The party lost power in November, following which the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress formed an alliance government.

Bhima Koregaon case

Violence broke out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. This happened a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits the following day.

The Pune rural police had booked Hindutva activists Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide for allegedly inciting the violence. While the Supreme Court granted Ekbote bail, the police never arrested Bhide.

Later that year, the Pune Police arrested 10 activists in connection with the violence, and accused them of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Most of the activists are still in prison. Last month, eight of the 10 accused in the Bhima Koregaon case had written a letter to the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission, alleging that the previous BJP-led state government had imprisoned them because they were dissidents.