Koregaon Bhima violence: Pawar working on agenda to implicate ‘Hindutvawadis’, claims Fadnavis

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“By setting up an SIT to re-look into the Bhima Koregaon case, Pawar wants to hold Hindutvawadis responsible for the violence,” Devendra Fadnavis said. (File Photo)

NCP president Sharad Pawar was working on a definite political agenda to implicate “Hindutvawadis” (supporters of Hindutva) in the Bhima Koregaon case, former chief minister and Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said on Sunday.

Speaking on Pawar’s stiff opposition to transfer the Elgaar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe instead, Fadnavis said, “During my tenure as chief minister (he was also in charge of Home), there was a thorough probe.”

While ruling out any cover-up in the investigation by his government, Fadnavis said, “Neither the Bombay High Court nor the Supreme Court had any objection to the investigation by the then state police. However, it is evident that the NCP president is keen on revoking the matter with a definite agenda.”

Shortly after the Bhima Koregaon violence, Fadnavis recalled how the NCP president had convened a press conference and alleged the role of right-wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide. Accordingly, the then BJP-Sena government initiated a probe. Bhide was given a clean chit but action was taken against Ekbote.

“By setting up an SIT to re-look into the Bhima Koregaon case, Pawar wants to hold Hindutvawadis responsible for the violence,” Fadnavis said.

“Why is Pawar so keen on a state probe into Elgaar Parishad? The Maoist link was not limited to Maharashtra. It was interlinked to various states which has to be probed by central agencies like the NIA. There are adequate documents to establish the role of Maoists,” he said.

Elgaar Parishad was an evening event organised at Pune’s Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, a day before the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, which every year attracts lakhs of pilgrims to a war memorial in the village of Koregaon Bhima, 25 km northwest of Pune. On this occasion, violence broke out in areas around Pune, resulting in the death of one person and injuries to several others.

Pune police has so far booked 23 persons and arrested nine for their alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray clarified in Mumbai on the eve of the Budget Session that he didn’t hand over the Elgaar Parishad probe to the NIA. “I didn’t hand over the case to the NIA but the Centre took it in its right. We have expressed our displeasure on it as they have shown mistrust on the state’s investigative agency,” he added.