January 24, 2020 3:34:09 am
A DECISION on whether to drop the cases registered in the Bhima-Koregaon violence or set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the cases will be taken by early next week.
On Thursday, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh were briefed for over two hours by officers of Pune police, who had registered the FIRs. The briefing will continue over another sitting, which will take place later this week or early next week, Deshmukh said.
“A decision will be taken after the second briefing which should take place in the next three or four days,” Deshmukh said.
Sources said the meeting took place on Thursday morning and went on for at least two and a half hours. “Senior officers of Pune police had flown down last night with a presentation of the evidence against the accused,” an officer said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had last month demanded that an SIT be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune Police in the Bhima-Koregaon case. The police had used the term “urban Naxals” while probing the alleged links of activists to the caste clashes at Bhima Koregaon in Pune on January 1, 2018. Deshmukh had said at the Loksatta Idea Exchange that the previous government termed anyone who did not agree with it as “urban Naxals” and that this government had a different approach to dissenters.
Pune Police, which investigated the case, linked the Elgar Parishad conclave of December 31, 2017 to the clashes around Bhima Koregaon in Pune the next day. The police claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists and they instigated violence near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial and arrested lawyers and activists from across the country. In November, Pune city police filed a chargesheet against the activists and lawyers.
A second investigation was conducted by Pune rural police against right-wing Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide ‘Guruji’ and Milind Ekbote, naming them as the orchestrators of the violence. Ekbote was granted bail by the Supreme Court, while Bhide was not arrested.
The previous government had also set up a two-member commission comprising retired Kolkata High Court Chief Justice J N Patel and former Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick in February 2018 to probe the sequence of events leading up to the New Year’s Day violence. The commission is currently on its fourth extension that expires on February 8.
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