Condemning the state government’s move to withdraw cases registered after the Bhima Koregaon violence, former Maharashtra DGP Julio Ribeiro, who filed a PIL earlier this month along with former chief secretary DM Sukthankar, said the “government cannot compensate for damages at the cost of people”. “No political party owns our money,” Ribeiro said. Earlier this month, Ribeiro and Sukthankar, representing Public Concern for Governance Trust, and Action for Good Governance and Network-ing in India respectively, filed a PIL stating the bandh called in January was illegal and the party responsible for it must pay for damages of Rs 50 crore.
At least 51 FIRs were filed in Mumbai after the Bhima Koregaon violence led to a bandh in the city. Across the state, according to CM Devendra Fadnavis’ statement in the Assembly, police registered 622 cases of rioting, 350 other offences of serious nature and 17 cases under Scheduled Caste/Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The CM also said that about 3,000 people were injured and property worth Rs 13 crore was destroyed.
Ribeiro cited past court judgments when bandhs have been termed illegal by the judiciary. “The Kerala High Court judgment had called bandhs illegal. Even Supreme Court upheld their judgment,” Ribeiro said. “Last month, BJP went to court in Karnataka after a bandh was announced during PM Narendra Modi’s visit. The Karnataka HC declared the bandh illegal. When Prakash Ambedkar called for a bandh, BJP should have approached the High Court. BJP went soft on them…,” Ribeiro said.