NCP chief Sharad Pawar Saturday alleged the Centre transferred the investigation into the Koregaon-Bhima violence case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to shield certain individuals, even as Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the state was weighing legal options to challenge the move.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday handed over the investigation into the Elgaar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) just a day after the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in the state held a meeting to review the chargesheet filed against the accused in the case.
Nine rights activists and lawyers had been arrested by the Maharashtra police in 2018 for allegedly inciting people at a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on December 31, 2017. Police claimed the activists and lawyers incited people and this led to caste violence in Koregaon Bhima the next day.
Questioning the Centre’s “haste” to hand over the probe to the NIA, Pawar said, “When the state government wanted to reinvestigate the case, what was the reason to transfer the case in such a hurry? This shows that there is substance in allegations that certain officials misused their powers to arrest innocent people. This (Central) government fears that it will be exposed and (so) the case has been transferred to hide this fact.” The NCP chief also said it was unfair to label people speaking against injustice as anti-nationals.
Last month, the NCP chief had demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune police against activists.
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said, “The Central government without taking our permission has handed over the case to the NIA. This is unconstitutional. We are seeking legal opinion on how we can challenge this,” he said, while referring to an alleged tiff between the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government and the Centre over the handing over of the 2014 Burdwan blast case to the NIA.
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