Sharpening its attack against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the Bhima Koregaon violence, the Congress Friday alleged the violence was “state-sponsored” and “pre-planned”. “What happened at Bhima Koregaon was state-sponsored violence. It was aimed at driving a wedge between two castes,” alleged Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, the leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
Expressing reservations on the government “permitting” a free and fair probe into the issue, the Congress demanded a High Court-monitored probe. “The CM has already announced an inquiry by a sitting High Court judge in the matter. We are demanding that this investigation should be under the Commissions of Inquiry Act and must be HC monitored,” he said.
The violence that occurred during the bicentennial event to commemorate the Koregaon-Bhima battle, in which British imperial forces comprising Dalits had defeated the army of Peshwas, on January 1 had killed one person and led to widespread protests across Maharashtra.
Training guns on the chief minister, the Congress labelled the violence a monumental intelligence failure. “The CM heads the Home department. We demand that he accepts his department’s failure and steps down from the Home minister’s position,” said Vikhe-Patil. He also demanded the sacking of state Director General of Police Satish Mathur and senior police officers from the Pune range for their failure to prevent the violence.
Meanwhile, the Congress also targeted Fadnavis and Mumbai civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta over the Kamala Mills fire tragedy on December 29, which took 14 lives. Objecting to Mehta being made the inquiry officer in the matter, the Congress leader, who has targeted Mehta even in the past, alleged that Mehta and other senior civic officials should also be subjected to the probe. “He (Mehta) should be suspended. Our demand is also that he should be made an accused in the case. And the CM must hand over the probe in the matter to the CBI. If this does not happen, I’ll personally file a public litigation on the issue,” said Vikhe-Patil, while accusing the CM of going soft on corruption.
The Congress alleged that there was involvement of leaders from the BJP-Shiv Sena and senior civic officials in issuing permissions to eateries and loungers in Mumbai’s erstwhile mill complexes, even if they did not have the required infrastructure. The party also demanded fire audits of all commercial establishments across the city. It also pressed the demand for the “immediate arrest” of Kamala mills owner Ramesh Govani.