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Bhima-Koregaon commission summons NCP chief Sharad Pawar as witness

The case is related to the alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at a conclave a night before the violence broke out near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial over two years ago.

SNS | New Delhi |

The judicial inquiry commission looking at the 2018 Koregaon-Bhima case in Maharashtra’s Pune district has summoned NCP chief Sharad Pawar as a witness.

The panel’s lawyer Ashish Satpute said here on Wednesday, Pawar will have to appear in Mumbai, on April 4.

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 and Order 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,” he added.

Earlier, on February 21, the judicial inquiry commission had received an application to summon Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President  Pawar in view of certain statements made by him in the media about the 2018 caste violence near Pune.

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

Shinde cited a press conference of Pawar held on February 18 in his plea.

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 in the plea.

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

The case is related to the alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at a conclave a night before the violence broke out near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial over two years ago.

The violence occurred on January 1, 2018, it took the life of a man and several others were injured during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.

The then Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government had arrested several human rights activists in the case of violence on charges of being linked to Maoists.