IN A sign of a rift between Maha Vikas Aghadi allies NCP and Shiv Sena, NCP leader and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday indicated that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, also the Sena president, has “overruled” his party’s stand by withdrawing any objections to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) taking over investigations into the Elgaar Parishad case.
The statement came after the government on Thursday said it has no objection to the NIA taking over probe into the case, in which nine human rights activists and academicians have been arrested by the Pune Police for alleged links with Maoists. “The state home department has no objection to the case being entrusted to the NIA,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Sanjay Kumar told PTI.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had earlier written to the Shiv Sena-led government seeking that an SIT be formed to investigate the matter, as there were allegations that those opposed to the previous BJP regime had been charged in the case.
Speaking to mediapersons, Deshmukh on Thursday said NCP had objected to the Centre not taking into confidence the state government before “suddenly handing over” the probe to NIA. He, however, maintained that the CM had the right to overrule the home ministry.
“The state government was investigating the Elgaar Parishad case and suddenly, the Centre transferred the case to the NIA. We raised objections on the ground that the Centre should have taken the state into confidence before the transfer, which it did not do. Currently, arguments regarding the same are ongoing at the (Pune) court… But the CM has the right to overrule the home minister… that is all I have to say,” he said.
When asked if it meant that NCP and Sena were not on the same page, Deshmukh said, “I said whatever I had to.”
The Centre had on January 24 transferred the probe in the case from the Pune Police to the NIA, a move then criticised by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government. The move had come a day after Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Deshmukh had held a meeting to review the chargesheet filed against the accused.
While Deshmukh had alleged that the previous Devendra Fadnavis regime was trying to protect some people who would be exposed if the state government asked an SIT to probe the case, Uddhav had said that the Centre has all rights to step into the probe, but it should have taken the state into confidence before handing over the investigation to the NIA.
The NIA had last week moved a Pune court, seeking transfer of case papers, seized data, court records and proceedings to the special NIA court in Mumbai.
According to PTI, Deshmukh told mediapersons that the court in Pune will give its order (on transfer of the case to NIA) on Friday. “We will take the advocate general’s opinion on setting up of an SIT to probe the Elgaar case as demanded by Sharad Pawar and whether the state government can proceed with setting up of the SIT,” he was quoted as saying.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgaar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwar wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the Pune Police had claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial in the district the next day. The police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
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