The Bhima Koregaon case has become a major point of contention between not just the central government and Maharashtra government, but the within the alliance government in Maharashtra too. When the case was handed over to the Central government investigation agency by the Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government, Sharad Pawar strongly objected and decided that state ministry under NCP will conduct a parallel probe.
The Sharad Pawar led NCP has decided that the state of Maharashtra would conduct a parallel probe in the case days after the Uddhav Thackeray led Maharashtra government stated that it had no objection in letting NIA take over the Bhima Koregaon probe.
According to Sharad Pawar, the arrested activists- Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut- with alleged Maoist links are innocent and were wrongly implicated by Fadnavis government.
As per NCP’s version, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote- the two Hindutva leaders who objected to celebration over the loss of Maratha Confederacy with the hand of British- are the real culprits of the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence.
The former chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, under whose tenure the Maoist activists were arrested, has raised the issue ahead of the budget session and said that Sharad Pawar wants to implicate the Hindutavadis in the case. “NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s first reaction on the violence was that Hindutvawadis were behind it. But police did not find any evidence to back up his claims,” said Fadnavis.
“The entire investigation and its progress has not been opposed by either by the Bombay High Court or by the Supreme Court. Still, by setting up a separate SIT, Pawar wants to implicate Hindutvawadis in the Koregaon Bhima violence incident,” he alleged.
From the day violence broke out, 2 January 2018- the 200th anniversary of Battle of Bhima Koregaon, which British won, Pawar has maintained that the Hindutva activist was the one who triggered the violence.
The activities of Maoists involved in the Bhima Koregaon were not restricted to the state of Maharashtra, and therefore the takeover by NIA is justified, said Fadnavis. The activists were not only involved in Bhima Koregaon violence but were also planning to assassinate PM Modi, and hence, it is a matter of National security.
The former CM of the state plans to felicitate Uddhav Thackeray for the handover of the case to union government in spite of NCP’s objection. “We welcome the transfer of Bhima Koregaon violence case to NIA, I am sure that despite the Home Minister and NCPs objection, the chief minister has transferred the case to NIA after seeing the documents related to this case,” Fadnavis said.
The Bhima Koregaon case has been at the top of NCP’s agenda ever since the alliance came into being. Shortly after the present Maharashtra government had come into power, NCP MLA, Jitendra Awhad had requested it to drop charges against urban Naxal Sudhir Dhawale, the prime accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Sharad Pawar himself had also demanded the constitution of a Special Investigation Team under a retired judge to be set up to carry out a probe into the action taken by Pune Police in the case.
The Mahar community of Maharashtra has opposed the arrest of Maoist activists who played a key role in organizing the event; Sharad Pawar wants to placate the community and bag their votes by setting the perpetrators free and implicate the Hindutva leaders.
Previously, NCP leader, Nawab Malik, who also happens to be the party’s chief spokesperson apart from being a Minister in Uddhav Thackeray’s cabinet has clearly stressed upon the Home Minister, NCP leader, Anil Deshmukh, taking the necessary steps for setting up a parallel probe. In such a case, Uddhav Thackeray, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra who had consented to the NIA taking over the probe stands bypassed.