Days after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar criticised the Maharashtra government for allowing the transfer of the Elgar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said he will ensure that a related probe into the Koregaon-Bhima violence is not taken over by the centre.
"Elgar and Koregaon-Bhima are two separate topics. The issue facing my Dalit brothers is about Koregaon-Bhima, and I will not give it to the centre. I want to make it clear that there will be no injustice (done) to (my) Dalit brothers," he tweeted.
The NCP is a key constituent of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, which also includes Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena and the Congress. The party had expressed resentment over the handing over of the Elgar Parishad case, which relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at a conclave the night before violence erupted near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial more than two years ago, to the National Investigation Agency on January 25.
"The behaviour of some in the Maharashtra Police (involved in Elgar Parishad probe) was objectionable. I wanted the role of these officers to be investigated. But ministers in the Maharashtra government met police officers one morning, and the centre ordered its transfer to the NIA at 3 pm the same day. This is wrong as per the constitution because criminal investigations come within the state's jurisdiction," news agency ANI quoted Sharad Pawar as telling reporters last week.
The NCP chief said "it was wrong of the centre to take the investigation out of the state's hands, and it was wrong of the Maharashtra government to support the decision".
A man was killed and several others were injured in the violence that followed the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Koregaon-Bhima battle on January 1, 2018. In the Elgar Parishad case, several human rights activists were arrested by the previous BJP-led Devendra Fadnavis government on charges of being "linked to Maoists" and inciting the violence through speeches the night before.
(With inputs from Agencies)