'Transfer of Bhima-Koregaon case to NIA appropriate'

Transfer of Bhima-Koregaon case to NIA appropriate: Devendra Fadnavis

PTI file photo

Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday welcomed the Centre's decision to hand over the Koregaon-Bhima violence case to the National Investigation Agency, terming the decision as "appropriate".

The Centre transferred the case to the NIA on Friday, with the NCP and Congress alleging that the decision came soon after the Maharashtra government took steps to review the probe by the Pune police.

The case pertains to caste violence that took place near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018, following alleged provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave at Pune a day earlier.

Speaking to reporters here, Fadnavis, who held the home portfolio when the incident took place, said the state police had unearthed a huge network of "urban Naxals' and submitted all the evidence gathered to the court.

"The Supreme Court had also supported the police action," the BJP leader claimed.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government was trying to mislead people about the probe for votebank politics, he alleged.

"Attempts are being made to lower the morale of the police and put them under pressure. The decision to hand over the probe to NIA is appropriate," he said.

"The urban Naxal network is spread all across the country. Earlier the UPA government had told the Lok Sabha that urban Naxals exist. This double standard must stop. Everybody should be united in the fight against anti-social elements," Fadnavis stated.

The Congress and NCP have hit out at the Centre for handing over the Koregaon Bhima case to the NIA, claiming it was done as the BJP feared the earlier government's wrongful actions would get "exposed".

Speaking on the case transfer earlier in the day, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, "I think the (Union) government fears that it may be exposed. So the decision has been taken."

Pawar had last month demanded setting up of a Special Investigation Team to probe the action taken by Pune police against activists in the case.