The newly formed Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra is holding a meeting to review the Koregaon Bhima violence case in which 10 activists were arrested during the previous BJP-led rule in the state.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh met senior police officials in the meeting which is currently underway at the state secretariat in Mumbai.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had last month demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune Police in the Koregaon Bhima case.
Later, NCP leader Deshmukh, after taking charge as Home minister, said earlier this month that he would seek a status report on the case and then take a decision.
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”.
Anil Deshmukh, while speaking to ‘Loksatta’, a Marathi daily, had said that the previous Devendra Fadnavis government labelled anyone disagreeing with them as “urban naxals” but the current Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress regime will not do it as it believes in democracy.
“We will think about this in connection with the Koregaon Bhima episode. Demands are being raised about forming SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe the matter. We will take a review of it through our officers and decide future course,” Deshmukh told the daily, according to a report in NDTV.