Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Monday filed more than 100 ‘evidence’ affidavits before the judicial commission investigating the Bhima-Koregaon riots, which resulted in the killing of a 30-year-old Maratha youth, Rahul Phatangade. The government, in a bid to give itself a clean chit, has maintained that the riots erupted ‘spontaneously and sporadically.” It has surprisingly avoided naming any organisation or party for causing the violent riots, which rocked the entire state, in the first week of January 2018.
The Judicial Commission, comprising Chief Justice (retd.) J N Patel and Sumit Mullick, former chief secretary, received at least 110 evidence affidavits submitted by the Pune rural police, through special public prosecutor Shishir Hiray.
Confirming the development, Hiray said, “I have filed 110 affidavits on behalf of the Pune rural police and the local administration. These affidavits contain the evidence adduced by the police so far in the case.”
According to Hiray, the government has not given any ‘colour’ and has not named any organisation or party, which, allegedly triggered widespread violence in the state.
“We have told the commission (through affidavit) that the incident was nothing but a result of the sporadic fight which broke out between two groups. The fights took place within a span of eight to 10 kilometres of Koregaon area. We have not named any group or organisation, responsible for this incident,” Hiray said.
“Let me also clarify, the government has not coloured the incident, either saffron or blue. We have only said that this incident was sporadic, and nothing else,” Hiray added.
The affidavits, as per Hiray, do not mention the name of right-wing leader Manohar ‘Sambhaji’ Bhide, who is alleged to have triggered the incident and instead, names Milind Ekbote, another Hindu leader and also an accused in the case.
“We have only put on record the evidence against Ekbote. The evidence includes everything which is in public domain. We have submitted the same records, which were furnished before the Supreme Court of India, while opposing his bail plea,” Hiray said, maintaining, “As of now, we have not said anything against Bhide but there are chances in future, we can submit something against him.”
The affidavits further highlight the ‘preparedness’ of the Pune rural police and also the ‘corrective steps’ it took to ensure no casualty, at the time of incident.
“We have mentioned the preparedness of the police force on the relevant day. We have informed the commission that adequate police force was deployed at the Koregaon, the venue of the event. We have made an attempt to explain how we controlled the entire situation,” Hiray informed.
Hiray further said, “We have also explained how and why we used tear gases to control the crowd. Also, the extent to which the public property was damaged, has been explained.”