Koregaon-Bhima: Cong, NCP want withdrawal of cases, BJP dubs it `support for naxals'

(Eds: Combines related stories) Mumbai, Dec 4 (PTI) The Congress and NCP, ruling alliance partners in Maharashtra, have demanded withdrawal of cases related to the 2018 Koregaon-Bhima caste violence, while the opposition BJP has termed the demand a 'blatant support' for naxalism.

Minister Jayant Patil said the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP government favoured granting relief to those who were falsely implicated.

NCP MLA Dhananjay Munde wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday, demanding withdrawal of cases related to the Koregaon-Bhima violence, claiming the previous BJP-led government had slapped 'false' cases against many including social activists and branded them as 'urban naxals'.

On Wednesday, Congress leader Naseem Khan too demanded withdrawal of cases filed against Dalit activists who had protested against the Koregaon Bhima violence, and a similar relief for participants of Maratha quota agitation.

Both these agitations were for seeking 'natural justice', Khan said in a letter to Thackeray.

The demand for relief for those facing cases in connection with Koregaon Bhima riots elicited a sharp response from the BJP.

'The NCP's demand for withdrawal of cases is a blatant support to naxalism. Even the court has admitted that there is preliminary evidence against the accused, which is the reason the court did not accept their bail applications,' state BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said.

'Chargesheets have been filed in the case. How can one simply withdraw the cases?' Bhandari asked.

On Wednesday, Jayant Patil, NCP leader and state minister, said the government favoured granting relief to those who were falsely implicated in cases related to the Koregaon-Bhima violence.

'We have received memorandums from several people claiming they were falsely framed....Such steps (withdrawal) were taken in the past too,' Patil told reporters here.

'The government wants to see nobody faces injustice ...the government's view is to give relief to those who were falsely framed,' he added.

The government will not support anyone who played intentional role in the violence, he said, adding that final decision rests with CM Thackeray, because the home portfolio (as other ministries) has not been allotted yet.

Violence erupted near Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018, a day after the Elgar Parishad conclave organised to commemorate 200 years of a famous battle between the Peshwa and the East India Company's army which had Dalit soldiers.

A subsequent bandh called by Dalit outfits to protest the violence and police's alleged high-handedness saw incidents of vandalism.

Dalits commemorate victory of the East India Company in the 1818 battle, looking upon it as a triumph over the upper caste establishment represented by the Peshwa.

Thackeray said on Tuesday that the earlier BJP-led government had already ordered withdrawal of cases involving minor criminal charges related to the Koregaon Bhima riot.

Some of the activists arrested by the Pune police in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case were later accused of having links with naxals, and booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). PTI ND ENM MR NSK KRK KRK