Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said on Sunday that the conduct of police personnel in the Bhima Koregaon case needs to be investigated, The Indian Express reported.
“There needs to be an investigation by a retired High Court judge into the conduct of police officers who have arrested people in this case,” Pawar said at an event in Jalgaon in Maharashtra. “There needs to be an in-depth investigation.”
On Saturday, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, a leader of the Nationalist Congress Party, said he has sought legal opinion from state Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni on the formation of a special investigation team to look into the case. Earlier last week, the state home ministry had granted permission to transfer the case from the Pune Police to the National Investigation Agency, a move that Deshmukh himself criticised, holding Shiv Sena chief and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray responsible.
On Sunday, Pawar claimed that the Centre transferred the case to the NIA to hide certain information which could implicate the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra. “While the Centre has the right to investigate, the state also has the right to do its investigation,” he said. “I have read that the state is also planning to investigate. The behaviour of certain officers who made wrong inferences and filed cases against people just because they wrote something and put them behind bars in not proper. This needs to be investigated.”
The Centre had taken the case from the Pune Police last month and handed it over to the investigation body. This had initially upset the Maharashtra government, which criticised the Narendra Modi government. On February 7, the state opposed the agency’s application. This came a day after defence lawyers also opposed the investigating agency’s petition to transfer all court documents and materials seized during inquiries to Mumbai.
On Friday, Sharad Pawar said the Centre’s decision to hand over the inquiry to the NIA was wrong. He also criticised the state government’s move to consent to the decision.
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 investigation agency named 11 of the 23 accused in the first information report, including Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, P Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha. Except Teltumbde and Navlakha, the others were arrested by Pune Police in June and August 2018 in connection with the violence. They were accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and are still in prison.