Amid Political Row Over Koregaon-Bhima Case, Worry For Devendra Fadnavis

An inquiry commission has been set up to conduct an inquiry into the riot that took place in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018.

Amid Political Row Over Koregaon-Bhima Case, Worry For Devendra Fadnavis

A panel set up in Maharashtra could call former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. (File)

Mumbai:

The inquiry commission set up in Maharashtra to investigate the Koregaon-Bhima riots could call former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, one of the petitioners before the commissioner told reporters. The commission is headed by former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court JN Patel and former Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sumit Malik and was set up to conduct an inquiry into the riot that took place in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, 2018.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters, "The commission is investigating the whole thing and the commission under Justice JN Patel has the authority to call whoever they feel necessary. Whether it is Devendra Fadnavis or someone else it's the decision of the judicial commission and they will take the appropriate decision."

After demands for exhaustive probe, the Maharashtra government had set up the judicial commission to inquire into the violence that took place during the 200th commemoration of the battle of Koregaon-Bhima in 2018. Dalit organisations had alleged that Hindutva leaders like Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote had instigated the crowd to attack on the Dalits gathered at Koregaon-Bhima.

The Pune Police after initially pursuing the case along those lines later claimed that inflammatory speeches at the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave a day earlier led to the violence.

The Pune Police had also arrested nine activists, including Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao in connection with Elgar Parishad case and filed a charge sheet as well. In the charge sheet against 19 accused, the Pune Police had also alleged that documents recovered during searched show a 'conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Modi, 'overthrow the government' and 'wage war against India'.

Following outrage over the arrest of left-leaning activists in the case there were allegations that the Pune Police were acting under pressure from then ruling dispensation in the state.

After the government in Maharashtra changed, NCP chief Sharad Pawar demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune police against activists in the Elgar Parishad case. But the centre moved immediately and handed over the case to the National Investigative Agency without consulting the state government leading to standoff between centre and Maharashtra Government in the Elgar Parishad case.

With the centre asking the NIA to take over the investigation of the Elgar Parishad case from Pune Police, an NIA team has arrived in Pune but they have been told by the Pune Police that papers will not be handed over till they have orders from the government.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters, "The NIA team had gone to the Pune Police. The Pune Police told them that till the time the government does not pass orders we cannot hand over the papers to you. Till the time we don't get the letter from the centre and we don't study the letter and take legal opinion, we cannot take a decision on this."