As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) takes over the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case that was being probed by the Pune police on Friday, it has left the Maharashtra Government furious. The Centre’s decision came a day after the police briefed Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh about the status of the probe.

The Uddhav Thackeray government was planning to withdraw all cases against the activists accused of inciting violence in the 2018 violence case.

“Handing over the Koregaon-Bhima probe to the NIA is against the constitution and I condemn it,” said Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, adding that the decision was taken without the state government’s consent.

Condemning the Centre’s decision to hand over the probe into the Koregaon Bhima violence case to the NIA, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said,  “Handing over the Koregaon-Bhima probe to the NIA is against the constitution and I condemn it,” said Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh,

The  Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition partner – Maharashtra Congress on Saturday alleged that the sudden move substantiates the “conspiracy” of the BJP. while the NCP also alleged that the Centre’s move is aimed at covering up the wrongdoings of the previous BJP-led government in Maharashtra.

“Sudden taking over of Bhima Koregaon riot case by NIA after Maha Vikas Aghadi govt started reinvestigation into inquiry of Pune police, clearly substantiates conspiracy of BJP. Why it took 2 yrs for NIA to find that case is fit under it’s jurisdiction? Strongly condemn!” Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said in a tweet.

“Why did it take NIA two years to find out that the case is fit under its jurisdiction. Strongly condemn the decision,” he said.

NCP spokesperson and state Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik described the decision as a “cover-up” by the Centre to hide the wrongdoings of the previous BJP-led government in the state.

Earlier, in November last year NCP chief Sharad Pawar had demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune Police in the case.

10 activists — Gautam Navlakha,Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale — were arrested by the Pune police from different parts of India in August 2018 for their alleged role in Pune’s December 31, 2017 Elgar Parishad gathering that served as a trigger for the caste riots in Koregaon Bhima the next day, where one person died in the violence.

These activists are accused of having alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist and hatching a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to overthrow the elected government and booked under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide were also booked for allegedly inciting violence. However, Ekbote was granted bail by the Supreme Court, while Bhide was never arrested.

The caste riots claiming one life, erupted on January 1, 2018 when over a lakh Dalits from across the state and country were celebrating the bi-cententary (200 years) of the historic Anglo-Maratha War in Koregaon Bhima.

The war has political significance as the Mahar caste soldiers of the small Bombay Native Infantry of the British East India Company had vanquished the Peshwa’s large army.

Meanwhile, the BJP is facing allegations of jailing activists who were opposed to its ideology and branding them as “urban Naxals”.

Earlier, the police (under Devendra Fadnavis led Maharashtra govt) had claimed that provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, led to the violence and Maoists were behind the conclave.

The  earlier Maharashtra government under BJP had earlier submitted before the court that the activists were arrested due to the ‘cogent’ evidence linking them to the banned CPI (Maoist).