NIA files petition seeking transfer of Bhima Koregaon violence case records to NIA Court in Mumbai

Mumbai: In a major twist, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed an application in Pune Sessions Court with a plea to transfer all records and proceedings on Bhima Koregaon violence case to a special NIA Court in Mumbai. NIA has said a fresh first information report (FIR) has been registered in the case. State home department confirmed that NIA has filed a petition which will be heard on Monday.

NIA's move is significant when the Centre's decision left Maharashtra government fuming and the refusal by Pune police to hand over the Bhima Koregaon violence case papers to the visiting NIA team on Monday citing it has yet to receive the intimation from the state Director General of Police.

As per the NIA Act, when the Centre deems any case fit to be probed by the NIA, the state police has to transfer relevant records to the Central agency.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had strongly attacked the Centre for handing over the case to NIA. Pawar had said that it was to save some people while Deshmukh had termed the Centre's decision against the Constitution of India.

Violence had broken out near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018. Dalits visit the memorial in large numbers as it commemorates the victory of British forces which included Dalit Mahar soldiers over the army of the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune in 1818.

The police had claimed that provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, led to the violence and Maoists were behind the conclave. They later arrested several Left-leaning activists including Telugu poet Varavara Rao and activist Sudha Bharadwaj for alleged links to Maoists. During the probe, Pune Police had claimed that Maoists and their supporters in urban areas were discussing a "Rajiv Gandhi-type" assassination plan against Modi.

Pune police in November 2018 had filed a 5,000-page chargesheet accusing five human-rights activists and lawyers of inciting violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1-3, 2018. Subsequently, they filed supplementary charge sheets.

Maharashtra government on Thursday received a letter from the Centre conveying its decision to hand over the Bhima Koregaon violence case to NIA. Home Department official confirmed the development saying that the government will decide the future course of action after receiving an opinion from the law and judiciary department. Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday had said the state government had yet to receive the Centre's communication although the decision to hand over the case to NIA was taken on January 25.

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