Pawar says no allegations against anyone for Bhima Koregaon violence
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said he has no personal knowledge or information about the sequence of events that led to the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018, and that he does not want to make allegations against anyone over the incident
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said he has no personal knowledge or information about the sequence of events that led to the Bhima Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018, and that he does not want to make allegations against anyone over the incident.
Pawar said this in an additional nine-page affidavit filed before a two-member commission on April 11, a copy of which is in possession of Hindustan Times. The commission probing the violence has summoned the NCP chief to depose before it in Mumbai on May 5 and 6.
“It is reiterated at the cost of repetition that I have no personal knowledge or information about the sequence of events leading to the unfortunate incident at Bhima Koregaon. I have no allegation to make against any political agenda or motive behind such an unfortunate incident. It is only an attempt to assist the commission to the best of my ability and knowledge owing to my long experience in public life,” Pawar said in his affidavit.
In his first affidavit filed in October 2018, Pawar had said that he was not in a position to blame any particular organisation for the violence but had blamed the state’s law enforcement agencies for their failure to prevent the incident. However, on February 18, 2020, the NCP chief had alleged that right-wing activists Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote could be responsible for creating an atmosphere of animosity in the area among locals ahead of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the 1818 war at the memorial in Pune district, which led to the violence on January 1, 2018. He had said that prior to this, there was no history of a rift between locals and visiting Dalits, who gathered every year at the war memorial.
In the second affidavit, the NCP chief suggested reforms in several legislations, including section 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with sedition. Pawar said it was being misused to stifle the voice of those who criticised the government, thus it should be repealed or amended.
“… However, in recent times this section [124A] is often misused against people who criticise the government, suppressing their liberty, and to stifle any voice of dissent raised in a peaceful and democratic way. Hence, it is proposed that the misuse of section 124A of the IPC should be stopped with amendments or the said section should be repealed,” Pawar said.
“I have a reason to say so because provisions of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act are sufficient to protect the national integrity,” he said.
The veteran leader also pointed out that the sedition law was brought in by the Britishers in 1870 to control the uprisings against them and to suppress the freedom movement.
The two-member commission, headed by retired high court justice JN Patel, was constituted by the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government on February 9, 2018.