Mumbai: The Union government has said that the Bhima Koregaon case was transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Pune police to unearth the larger pan-India conspiracy and it had nothing to do with the change in the government in the state of Maharashtra.
The union government recently filed its affidavit before the Bombay High Court while replying to petitions by human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling and activist Sudhir Dhawalwe and others challenging the transfer of probe from the Pune police to the NIA.
Gadling's petition, filed through advocate SB Talekar, alleged that decision to transfer the probe in Elgar Parishad case to the NIA was political motivated as it was done after the BJP government lost elections in Maharashtra.
Refuting the allegation, the Union government reply states: “It is stoutly denied that the transfer of the investigation was actuated by the change in Government. Change in Government has nothing to do with the transfer of investigation to NIA.”
The affidavit filed by the Under Secretary of the Counter Terrorism and Counter Radicalisation division of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs alleges that the petition was “malafide and vexatious” and was a desperate attempt by the accused to thwart the investigation in the case.
The affidavit further reads: “It was revealed that senior leaders of CPI (Maoist), which is a prescribed terrorist organisation, were in contact with organizers of the Elgar Parishad to spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities.”
It added that the offence became “abnormally grave and spread not only to Pune district but to many regions of India” and hence a thorough investigation was necessary to unearth the large pan-India conspiracy hatched by the accused.
Earlier, even the NIA had filed an affidavit opposing the petition stating that it was asked to probe the case as it concerned national security and was not politically motivated.
Gadling’s petition came up for hearing before a division bench of Justice SS Shinde and NJ Jamdar which has kept it for hearing on August 27.
Apart from Gadling and Dhawale, several other activists Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen have been arrested in the case. 84-year-old tribal rights activist Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, who was also arrested in the case, died in a Mumbai hospital in July.
They are accused of being active members of the CPI (Maoist) and propagating Maoist ideology and inciting violence. They have been booked under the provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, apart from various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Elgar Parishad case is related to inflammatory speeches made at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city. The police had claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.
On 1 January 2018, the violence at Bhima Koregaon village left one dead and injured several others, including 10 policemen. Violence erupted after some people, reportedly with saffron flags, pelted stones at cars heading towards the village for the commemoration of the 200 years of Bhima-Koregaon war on New Year's Day.
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