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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Koregaon Bhima inquiry panel: Witness describes violence at his garage, says ‘17 vehicles, fire engine torched’

Shah’s examination in chief was recorded by Aashish Satpute, lawyer for the commission. A resident of Koregaon Bhima, Shah has been running an auto garage in the village since 2006.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: October 1, 2021 10:43:53 am
The two-member commission headed by retired Justice J N Patel is probing the sequence of events that led to the violence. (File)

An automobile garage owner, Tasabbar Suleman Shah (37), whose garage was damaged during the Koregaon Bhima violence of January 1, 2018, deposed as a witness before the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.

Shah’s examination in chief was recorded by Aashish Satpute, lawyer for the commission. A resident of Koregaon Bhima, Shah has been running an auto garage in the village since 2006.

In his affidavit submitted before the commission, Shah had said that during the January 1 violence, persons holding blue flags and shouting slogans of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had damaged 17 four-wheelers that were awaiting repair work at his garage. He said the group had iron rods and stones, and they set the vehicles on fire after spraying inflammable material on them.

According to the affidavit, the vehicles that were set on fire had sentences related to Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj on them. Shah said his garage sustained damage worth Rs 70 lakh due to the violence. During his cross-examination by advocate Rahul Makhare, Shah said. “….I was at the garage till 5.30 p.m. I tried to extinguish the fire, but the rioters threatened me that if I intervened, they would burn me along with the garage. The rioters had iron rods and
flags and were shouting the name of Babasaheb,” he said.

Shah added that when the fire brigade reached the spot at 3.30 pm, the group set the fire tender ablaze.

Replying to advocate Makhare, Shah further said, “At Vadhu Chowk, there were persons with blue flags and saffron flags since morning and they were shouting slogans. The persons holding saffron flags came towards Vadhu Chowk at about 1.30 pm. Before that, persons with blue flags were already there and proceeding towards the War Memorial at Koregaon Bhima. There were women, children and old people along with persons carrying blue flags. The argument started when people holding the saffron flags came to Vadhu Chowk… the situation turned into a riot as they started pelting stones, damaging properties along the road.”

Shah said he didn’t know which organisations the people carrying the blue flags and saffron flags belonged to.
During his cross-examination by advocate Shishir Hiray, Shah said he was satisfied with the compensation paid by the government.

The two-member commission headed by retired Justice J N Patel is probing the sequence of events that led to the violence.

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