The NCP on Monday said it would ensure that a parallel investigation was conducted into the Elgaar Parishad case by the state even if the Uddhav Thackeray-led government had given consent to transfer its investigation to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The statement, issued after party chief Sharad Pawar held an hour-long meeting with NCP ministers, comes at a time when apparent rift has emerged within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies — Shiv Sena NCP and Congress — on a clutch of issues. It is the second such meeting of NCP ministers that has been presided by Pawar, since the MVA government was sworn-in on November 28 last year.
“Even though a decision to hand over the (Elgaar Parishad) case to the NIA has been taken, under Section 10 of the NIA Act, the state has the right to conduct its own parallel investigation. Pawar saheb has asked the home minister (Anil Deshmukh) to act following the provisions (of the Act),” state Minority Affairs Minister and party spokesperson Nawab Malik said after the meeting in south Mumbai. He added that at the meeting, NCP ministers decided that the home minister will examine all the required procedures and set up an SIT (Special Investigation Team) for the Elgaar Parishad issue.
The announcement comes a day after Pawar sought an inquiry by a retired high court judge-led committee into the conduct of state police officers who had arrested 23 people in the Elgaar Parishad case. On Saturday, Deshmukh had said that he has sought legal advice from the Advocate General of Maharashtra to inquire if an SIT can be formed to probe the case.
“While a decision has been taken to hand over the investigation in the case to the NIA, there has been a growing demand that the case needs to be investigated in the state by an SIT. We have sought a legal opinion on how this can be done. We will have a discussion with the chief minister and make a formal announcement,” Deshmukh said Monday.
The NCP meet also saw a discussion on National Population Register (NPR) updation, slated to begin in the state from May 1. While the NCP and Congress had opposed NPR and demanded a joint meeting of the coalition partners to determine the government stand, the Sena, so far, has said it is in the national interest.
“The data collection required for NPR has already been done under Aadhaar. In the current NPR census, there are a few additional questions that the present (central) government has included. (While) the programme of the census is fixed and preparations for the process have begun, what questions need to be included in the questionnaire has still not been fixed. The three parties will sit together and take a decision on that,” Malik said.
While the previous NPR had 15 questions, the new one has 21 questions, including one requiring people to report the place of birth of their parents — the question has seen protests across the country, including in Mumbai.
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