INVESTIGATORS ARE probing a “fake” Aadhaar card with a Delhi address found in Vadhu Budruk village near Pune, where a dispute between Dalits and Marathas on December 29 is believed to have been one of the triggers that sparked violence in the Koregaon Bhima region on January 1.
The card, purportedly carrying the name “Kadir Khan”, was said to have been found near the samadhi of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj, the most prominent landmark in the village. A resident of Vadhu Budruk found the card on January 1 and handed it over to local police on January 7.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior police officer said: “One card was found by a villager, and it was reported to us. We are trying to get it verified from authorities through our channels.” However, sources close to the investigation said the card was “most probably a fake”, and that there was no resident by that name at the address in Delhi’s Pitampura.
At the address, a resident, who did not wish to be identified, told The Indian Express: “Police had come here looking for the man mentioned in the Aadhaar card. It’s been more than a week since they came. They asked us if there was someone by the name as a paying guest. We told them there was no one like that here.”
When contacted, Aslam Khan, DCP, Delhi Police, confirmed that they visited the address following a request from Pune Police. “We found that the address was as mentioned in the Aadhaar card, but there was no one by that name there. The original residents were staying there for many years. There was no one by that name in the entire residential society,” he said.
Sources said the gram panchayat of Vadhu Budruk has also written to the Shikrapur police station, which holds jurisdiction over the area, that the person mentioned in the card did not belong to the village or to neighbouring areas.
Vadhu Budruk had witnessed a confrontation between Dalit and Maratha communities on December 29 over a board with ‘disputed history’ that had come up near the samadhi of Govind Mahar, a 17th century Dalit figure. The board, which came up on the intervening night of December 28 and 29, described Govind Mahar as the man who had performed the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj after he was killed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1689.
The Marathas of the village, who believe it was their ancestors who performed the last rites, removed the board the next day, leading to an altercation. Marathas alleged the board was illegally erected without seeking permission from Gram Panchayat. However, the matter was settled with the intervention of police.
But the incident is believed to be one of the reasons that led to the clashes three days later on January 1, leading to the death of a 30-year-old man, when thousands of people assembled in the area to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon in Perne village a few kilometres away.
(With Mahender Singh Manral & Aranya Shankar in New Delhi)