The Koregaon Bhima Inquiry Commission, headed by former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice J N Patel, on Wednesday visited Shaniwar Wada in Pune, where the Elgaar Parishad was held on December 31, 2017.
Set up by the state government, the two-member commission is looking into the factors that led to the violence in Koregaon Bhima area on January 1, 2018. It has held several hearings and heard depositions from several witnesses, historians and others.
Secretary of the commission, V V Palnitkar, said the purpose of the visit was to see the spot where the Parishad was held, understand the rules and regulations for granting permission to hold programmes at the Shaniwar Wada, seek information from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) regarding all the applications and other documents used to obtain permission from the civic body to organise the conclave.
“PMC officials had also come to Shaniwar Wada with the required documents and they had a discussion with the commission on the issue,” said Palnitkar, who was also present during the commission’s visit to Shaniwar Wada, along with Justice Patel and commission member and former Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mullick, advocate Aashish Satpute, the lawyer for the commission, and advocate Shishir Hiray, the lawyer representing the state.
The commission members and officials, along with police guards, reached Shaniwar Wada at 2.15 pm. A guide gave them a brief history of Shaniwar Wada and Peshwas, after which the commission members visited a few spots inside Shaniwar Wada. They also visited the place where the Elgaar Parishad was held, as well as the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum in Shukrawar Peth.
Pune City Police has alleged that “provocative speeches” made at the Parishad and related “objectionable programmes” before the event had triggered violence in Koregaon Bhima the next day, when lakhs of Dalits had gathered in the area to mark the second anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. One person was killed and several injured in the violence.
Police have so far booked 23 persons in the case under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and nine prominent activists have been arrested from across India. Police have alleged that the arrested activists have links with the banned outfit CPI-Maoist.
In January this year, Pune City Police had filed a supplementary affidavit before the commission, seeking an order to ban programmes at historical places in the city, including Shaniwar Wada and other “places of importance”. It had said such programmes can “disturb peace” and cause “riot-like situations”.