Maha govt slams BJP for shifting Koregaon case to NIA

Maharashtra govt condemns Centre's move to give Koregaon Bhima case to NIA

The development comes as a major embarrassment to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

Police officials patrolling after Dalits called for Maharashtra Bandh as a protest over Bhima Koregaon violence, at Sangli in Maharashtra. (PTI Photo)

Hours after the Centre handed over the investigation of the Koregaon Bhima case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA),  the Maharashtra government has lashed out at the Centre. 

The development comes as a major embarrassment to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. 

"I strongly condemn the decision to transfer the investigation of Koregaon-Bhima case to NIA, by the Central government without any consent of Maharashtra Government," state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Friday late night. 

On Thursday, Deshmukh and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had a detailed briefing on the case from the Pune Police. 

Earlier, Pawar in a letter had urged Thackeray to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the way the investigation was carried out.  Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis has backed the Centre's decision  saying that the MVA government's act was demoralising the police force. 

"The Maharashtra Police conducted a probe and exposed the Urban Naxals. Even the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Maharashtra police. Ever since the new government came to power, some people -- for the sake of votes -- have been demoralising the police.

"Chargesheets had even been filed in some cases, but they tried to alter charges for the sake of votes," said Fadnavis, who was then the Chief Minister and Home Minister of the state.

The Congress and NCP has reacted sharply over the development. NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase tweeted: "Within a day of @PawarSpeaks demanding SIT in violence, the MHA transfers the case to NIA. What is the BJP afraid of? Why have they suddenly lost faith in Maharashtra Police?"

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant tweeted: "Sudden taking over of Bhima Koregaon riot case by NIA after #MahaVikasAghadi govt started reinvestigation into inquiry of Pune police, clearly substantiates conspiracy of #BJP. Why it took 2 yrs for NIA to find that case is fit under it's jurisdiction? Strongly condemn!"

"As far as Bhima Koregaon case is concerned, I had myself gone there while the riots were taking place. But I want to say one thing that there is a commission to investigate this case. It is for the commission to decide what has to be done ahead. That is the reason why if I say anything today, it will be premature," said senior Shiv Sena leader and the then Minister of State for Home.

Elgar Parishad & Koregaon Bhima case: The story so far

29 December, 2017: The samadhi of Govind Gopal Mahar (Gaikwad) was vandalised in Vadhu Budruk, a village nearly 3 kms away from Koregaon Bhima. Govind, a Dalit, had conducted the last rites of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s eldest son Sambaji, who was killed at the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1689. The Mughals had warned that they would kill anyone who perform the last rites, but, Gaikwad defied the order. He was killed, but Gaikwad emerged as a symbol of Dalit pride and courage for centuries. This piece of history, however, had been challenged.

31 December, 2017: At an event of Elgar Parishad held at Shaniwardwada in Pune city  to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Koregaon-Bhima battle, several persons including  Jignesh Mewani, Radhika Vemula, Umar Khalid, Vinay Ratan Singh, Soni Sori and Prashant Dontha  spoke.

1 January, 2018: Altercation between two groups during  the celebrations – organized by Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan -to mark the bicentenary of the Anglo-Maratha war at Bhima Koregaon  in Shirur taluk in Pune district in which the Mahar caste soldiers of Bombay Native Infantry of East India Company defeated the Peshwas. One youth was killed in the incident. Several vehicles and public property was damaged. This was followed by two days of agitation.

4 January, 2018: Prakash Ambedkar demands arrest of Sangli-based Sambaji Bhide Guruji , the founder of  Shree Shiv Pratisthan Hindustan and  Pune-based Milind Ekbote, the founder of Samastha Hindu Aghadi

8 January, 2018: Pune police register FIR into the Elgar Parishad meeting, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani and students' leader Umar Khalid named in FIR  

10 February, 2018: Maharashtra government appoints Justice (Retd) JN Patel, former Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court and the then Chief Secretary Sumit Malik as a two-member probe panel to probe Koregaon Bhima riots and gave them four months time to submit report. 

14 March, 2018: Pune Rural Police arrest Milind Ekbote after Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail application

28 March, 2018: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gives clean chit to Sambhaji Bhide
 
17 April, 2018: Multi-city raids on Maoists sympathisers including Surendra Gadling and members of Kabir Kala Manch.

22-23 April, 2018: More than 40 Maoists including four commanders were killed in the twin encounters in Gadchiroli district by team of Anti-Naxalite Operations of Maharashtra Police and 9th Battalion of Central Reserve Police Force.

6 June, 2018: Pune police arrest Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Mahesh Raut - during the first round of raids.

7 June, 2018: Pune police unearth plot by Maoists to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi the way one of his predecessors Rajiv Gandhi was eliminated

8 August, 2018: Pune police arrest several Maoist leaders revolutionary writer Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Pereira- in the second round of raids. Supreme Court sends them to house arrest. Subsequently, they were arrested one by one after the period of house arrest ended except for Navlakha.

15 November, 2018: Pune police file chargesheet, says there was a plot to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi, overthrow elected government, foment caste trouble.

28 November, 2019: Uddhav Thackeray becomes Chief Minister after Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government comes to power

3 December, 2019: Sharad Pawar led NCP asks Uddhav Thackeray to review Koregaon Bhima case.

24 January, 2020: Centre gives Koregaon Bhima case to NIA