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Facing flak over Bhima Koregaon case transfer, Uddhav Thackeray vows to handle Dalit issue

He said the Centre has taken over only the Elgaar Parishad case and not the Bhima Koregaon violence case which was a result of the alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the conclave in December 2017.

SNS | New Delhi |

Facing flak from its allies over the transfer of the Elgar Parishad probe to the NIA, Chief Minister of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, Uddhav Thackeray, on Tuesday stated that the Elgaar Parishad case and the Bhima Koregaon violence that followed are two different topics.

He said the Centre has taken over only the Elgaar Parishad case and not the Bhima Koregaon violence case which was a result of the alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the conclave in December 2017.

“Elgar and Bhima Koregaon are two separate topics. The issue facing my Dalit brothers is about Bhima Koregaon and I will not give it to the Centre. I want to make it clear that there will be no injustice to Dalit brothers,” Thackeray said on Twitter on Tuesday.

His clarification comes after Shiv Sena allies, Congress and NCP, lashed out the Maharashtra CM over the Centre’s move.

The Maharashtra government’s sudden decision to allow the NIA to take over the probe from Pune Police after initially opposing it caused a flutter in the coalition government, with state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of the NCP saying on Thursday that the chief minister had “overruled” him in the matter.

“We are partners. Such things should be discussed. This isn’t fair. Power should be used judiciously,” Mallikarjun Kharge, the AICC general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, had also told reporters last Saturday.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parish ad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed had triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day. The Pune police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

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).

Meanwhile, on Sunday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had alleged that the Centre has handed over the probe in the Elgar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as the previous Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra wants to “hide something”.

Pawar, who earlier demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) should be set up to probe the case in which human rights activists have been arrested for alleged links with Maoists, said the Centre should have taken the Maharashtra government into confidence before handing over the case to NIA.

Earlier last week, the NCP chief had hit out at the Maharashtra government over its alleged joint decision with the centre to transfer the Bhima-Koregaon case to the NIA.

Pawar termed the decision as “unconstitutional” as he said it violates the state’s jurisdiction over law and order issues.

Meanwhile, days after the coalition partners hit out at Thackeray, a senior minister on Monday said the Maharashtra government will conduct a parallel investigation into the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon-Bhima case.

The National Investigation Agency on January 24 took over the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case that was being probed by the Pune police. 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.