Bhima-Koregaon violence:  Prakash Ambedkar seeks to summon Fadnavis before judicial panel

Pune: Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar on Tuesday sought to summon Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis and government officials before the Koregaon-Bhima violence inquiry commission here. Appearing before the commission in his capacity as a lawyer, Ambedkar represented M N Kamble, one of the witnesses to the violence.

Kamble has demanded that Fadnavis and some government officials should be examined before the judicial commission. The commission, headed by Justice (retired) Jai Narayan Patel and with former state chief secretary Sumit Mullick as its member, was formed by the Fadnavis government in February. “Our demand is the commission should summon and examine government officials, right from the investigating officer who is probing the violence case to Fadnavis,” said Ambedkar.

“If the responsibility (for the violence) is to be fixed, all these decision-makers needs to be examined,” he said. Ambedkar also demanded that certain documents such as police station diaries, wireless and written communication between the government officials and police on December 31 and January 1 and documents pertaining to deployment of police force on these two days should be produced. Justice Patel said the documents which are in public domain can be brought before the commission.

Ambedkar contended that the violence on January 1 was a clear case of failure of the government machinery, and the commission needs to establish at what level this failure took place and whether it was a case of lack of intelligence inputs or a failure to act on them. Advocate Ashish Satpute, who is assisting the commission on legal points, said the commission’s inquiry is at the initial stage, and the chief minister and government officials can be summoned at a later stage.

Justice Patel said the commission may summon Fadnavis and officials if it deems it necessary. Special public prosecutor Shishir Hirey will be arguing on behalf of the state government. Dalits visiting a memorial of an 1818 battle at Koregaon Bhima in Pune district — in which the forces of the Peshwa, ruler of Pune, were defeated by the British East India Company —- came under attack on January 1 this year. While Dalits see the victory as an assertion of Dalit identity as the British forces included Mahar (a formerly untouchable caste) soldiers, some Hindu right-wing organisations were opposed to the celebration.

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