Pawar criticises govt for letting NIA probe Elgar case

Sharad Pawar criticises Uddhav govt for letting NIA probe Elgar case

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Friday criticised Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's decision to let the NIA take over probe into the Elgar Parishad case from the state police.

Talking to reporters here, Pawar said it was not right on part of the Centre to hand over the probe into the case, which was with the Pune police, to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as law and order was a state subject.

"It was not right for the Centre to hand over the investigation into the case to the NIA. But it was even more wrong for the state government to support the transfer of the case," said Pawar.

The NCP is a key constituent of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and its leader Anil Deshmukh is the home minister.

The conduct of police and home department officials handling the case was objectionable, he said.

The NIA was entrusted the case at a time when the process of setting up an SIT was initiated by the state government, he said.

"Meetings took place between 9 am and 11 am (in Mumbai) and the Centre took the decision (to hand over the case to the NIA) at 3 pm (on January 25)," he said.

Pawar said it was not right for the Centre to encroach upon the rights of the state on law and order issue.

"The Maharashtra government should not have supported the Centre's move," the former Union minister said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Sanjay Kumar told PTI on Thursday that "the state home department has no objection to the case being entrusted to the NIA".

On Thursday, Deshmukh said Thackeray had overruled him on the probe in the case, in which human rights activists have been arrested for alleged links with Maoists.

"State agencies were investigating the case, but the Centre handed over the investigation to the NIA. As Home Minister, my stand was that the Centre should have taken the state government into confidence before taking the decision.

"We were putting up our stand in the court in this direction. The Chief Minister has the right to overrule my stand," Deshmukh had said.

The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government had initially criticised the Centre's move to hand over the case to the NIA.

Deshmukh had then publicly expressed disapproval of the Centre's move and termed it as against the Constitution.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.

The Pune police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

During the probe into the police, the Pune police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.

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