During his cross-examination on Wednesday before the judicial commission inquiring into the clashes that had erupted in Koregaon Bhima on January 1, a retired assistant police inspector, who was an witness to the violence against Dalits, said that “in order to have mass mobilisation, it has to be mobilised in big way by someone”.
The witness, Tukaram Gaware, was present at the spot on January 1 when violence had broken out following an annual celebratory gathering at Koregaon Bhima to mark the 200th year of the battle of Koregaon.
On being asked by Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hirey whether he had earlier visited Vijay Stambh, the memorial to commemorate the victory of Dalits while fighting against the Peshwas in 1818, on January 1, Gaware said: “On previous occasions, we three to four friends or associates used to visit Vijay Stambh to pay homage.”
Gaware added that he used to visit Vijay Stambh even on days other than January 1 as and when he was in its vicinity.
Hirey went on to ask whether a lot of campaigning was done to ensure that people visit the Vijay Stambh on January 1. “On January 1, 2018, we planned to visit as it was the 200th anniversary (of the battle of Koregaon),” replied Gaware.
When Hirey asked him whether in order to have mass mobilisation, it has to be mobilised in a big way by someone, Gaware replied in the affirmative. “I didn’t make any effort to mobilise people to visit Vijay Stambh. I don’t know if anyone has mobilised people to visit Vijay Stambh in large numbers,” he added.
Hirey claimed that whatever Gaware has stated in the affidavit and deposition before the commission about the role of police is false. Gaware, however, denied this. Meanwhile, the lawyers representing Gaware and another witness Sanjay Lakhe Patil submitted applications before the commission requesting for the “total police” records related to the Koregaon Bhima violence to be given in advance so that the “failure of police machinery” could be brought to light.
However, commission Chairperson Justice (retd) J N Patel asked Patil’s lawyer B A Desai to define what he meant by “total police records”. Patel, finally, asked Hirey to file a reply on this, following which, the commission would give its ruling.