Lawyers of right-wing leader Milind Ekbote, NGO Vivek Vichar Manch and one of the victims of the Koregaon Bhima violence cross-examined Ravindra Lahuji Chandane, a member of the Republican Party of India, before the Inquiry Commission on Friday. The two-member commission is probing the reasons behind the violence that broke out on January 1 last year, when thousands had gathered in the area to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
The hearing took place in Mumbai. Chandane, who claims to be one of the eyewitnesses of the violence, is being examined since January 15 and his testimony is expected to go on in Pune after January 28.
Chandane had earlier submitted video footage which, he claimed, was taken by him on his cellphone “at the starting point of the violence”. He had also claimed that he was injured during the violence.
Chandane has blamed Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide for triggering the violence.
Both Ekbote and Bhide had been booked on charges of inciting the violence. While Ekbote was arrested and released on bail later, Bhide was not arrested due to lack of sufficient evidence against him.
Till now, Chandane has been cross-examined by advocate B G Bansode, who is representing a man who sustained injuries in the violence; advocate Maheen Pradhan, who is representing Milind Ekbote, and advocate Vijay Savant, who is representing NGO Vivek Vichar Manch.
Savant pointed out some alleged anomalies in Chandane’s statement at the time of lodging the FIR and in the affidavit submitted to the commission, and alleged that Chandane had “deliberately suppressed facts for political gains”. Chandane has denied the allegations.
Pradhan said Chandane’s affidavit does not match with any terms or reference of the commission, a statement rejected by the latter.
The commission is headed by retired High Court Justice Jay Narayan Patel and also comprises former chief secretar Sumit Malik. It is inquiring into the “exact sequence of the incidents, causes thereof and the person and organisation responsible for the same and the role of the police machinery during the said period, and also to identify the measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents, which are definite matters of public importance.”