NCP Chief Sharad Pawar
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar
PTI Photo

Maharashtra govt-appointed inquiry commission will record statement of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, ANI reported.

Recently, Bhima Koregaon accused Stan Swamy on Monday passed away in Mumbai's Bandra Hospital. He was 84.

On January 2, 2018 violence erupted at an event to mark 100 years of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, leaving one dead and several injured, including 10 policemen. The police had filed 58 cases against 162 people during a state-wide shutdown in January following clashes in Bhima-Koregaon.

Following this, on March 18, 2020, Bhima Koregaon Commission had summoned Sharad Pawar to appear before the Commission. The Commission was inquiring into the reasons which led to the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra.

While speaking to ANI, Ashish Satpute, inquiry commission lawyer said, "Maharashtra government-appointed inquiry commission will record the statement of NCP chief Sharad Pawar in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. Witnesses' statements to be recorded from August 2 and Pawar will be summoned as well."

Followed by the violence, the Pune Police had alleged that "provocative" speeches at the 'Elgar Parishad conclave', held on December 31, 2017, triggered the violence.

According to the police, the Elgar Parishad conclave organisers had links with Maoists.

In December 2019, Pawar termed the arrest of activists in the Elgar Parishad case "wrong" and "vengeful". He had also demanded that a Special Investigation Team be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune police.

Pawar's party is now a key constituent in the Shiv Sena-led government in the state. The commission was set up when the BJP was in power in Maharashtra.

The commission was constituted by the then BJP government to find out what led to the violence.

Sagar Shinde, a member of the Vivek Vichar Manch, a social group, had filed the application before the panel through his advocate Pradip Gawade, seeking that Pawar be asked to depose before the two-member commission.

In his plea, Shinde cited a press conference of Pawar.

As per the application, at the press meet Pawar alleged that right-wing activists Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide had created a "different" atmosphere in Koregaon-Bhima, located on outskirts of Pune city, and its vicinity.

"In the same press conference, Mr Pawar also alleges that the role of Pune city police commissioner is doubtful and must be investigated. These statements are within the purview of the terms of reference of this commission and therefore they are relevant," Shinde said the plea.

Pawar had, on October 8, 2018, filed an affidavit before the commission, headed by former Bombay High Court Chief Justice J N Patel. Former Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mullick is the other member of the judicial panel.

The former Union minister, in his affidavit, had stated, "I would not be in a position to factually point out the chronology of the said events as that would be the domain of the existing Law andOrder machinery."

He had also stated, "I would not be in a position to specifically make allegations against any particular organisation.

"However, it is unfortunate that the state government and law and enforcement authorities failed to protect the interest of the common man residing at Koregaon Bhima and its vicinity."

The former chief minister had further stated the active role of "right-wing" forces behind the violence at Koregaon Bhima can not be ruled out.

However, concrete evidence in this regard can be gathered only by law enforcement agencies of the state, he had said in the affidavit.

Gathering of anti-social elements in large numbers at Koregaon Bhima indicated the failure of law enforcement agencies, the NCP leader had told the panel.

"Hence, thestate of Maharashtra has to own the responsibility of a failed law and order situation on January 1, 2018," he had stated.

(With inputs from agencies)

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