Koregaon-Bhima probe handed over to NIA without Maharashtra govt’s consent: Home Minister Anil Deshmukh

'Handing over probe of Koregaon-Bhima case to NIA is against Constitution, I condemn it,' said Anil Deshmukh

PTI
Updated25 Jan 2020
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh (Photo: ANI)
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh (Photo: ANI)

Mumbai: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Friday hit out at the Union government, claiming that it has transferred the probe of the 2018 Koregaon-Bhima violence case to the National Investigation Agency without the state government's consent.

The case was being probed by the Pune Police.

Deshmukh tweeted on Friday evening that the Centre took this decision after the new Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra decided to "go to the root of the matter".

"...I condemn this decision. This is against the Constitution," the minister, who belongs to the NCP, added.

Violence had broken out near Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018.

Dalits visit the memorial in large numbers as it commemorates victory of British forces which included Dalit Mahar soldiers over the army of the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune in 1818.

The police had claimed that provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, led to the violence, and Maoists were behind the conclave.

They later arrested several Left-leaning activists including Telugu poet Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj for alleged links to Maoists.

The Nationalist Congress Party sought to know why the Centre suddenly lost faith in the state police.

Within a day of NCP president Sharad Pawar demanding probe by a Special Investigation Team in the Koregaon-Bhima violence, the Ministry of Home Affairs transferred the case to the NIA, said NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase.

"What is the BJP afraid of? Why have they suddenly lost faith in Maharashtra Police?" he asked.

Some media reports had said that Pawar had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that the violence was the result of a conspiracy hatched by the then BJP-led government in the state with the help of police, and had sought an SIT probe.

Incidentally, as per the NIA Act, when the Centre deems any case fit to be probed by the NIA, the state police has to transfer relevant records to the Central agency.

Earlier in the day, another NCP leader and minister Jitendra Awhad alleged that the Koregaon-Bhima violence case was a "conspiracy" of the previous BJP-led government to malign the image of activists sympathetic to Dalit causes.

"Taking action against those who recite poems of Namdeo Dhasal (a Marathi poet and Dalit activist) and arresting people on allegations of plotting to kill (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is too much. The case should be investigated again," the minister had said.

During the probe, Pune Police had claimed that Maoists and their supporters in urban areas were discussing a "Rajiv Gandhi-type" assissination plan against Modi.

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