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Bhima Koregaon violence was pre-planned, claim Pune Police

The probe into the caste riots in Bhima Koregaon, 40 kilometres from Pune, has taken two routes – one indicating the involvement of Maoists and another about the role of members associated with rightwing Hindutva outfits.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2018 13:30 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Bhima Koregaon,Pune,Koregaon violence
Hyderabad: Police detain activists during a protest against the arrest of revolutionary writer Varavara Rao and other activists in connection with Bhima-Koregaon violence, in Hyderabad on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

The violence in Bhima Koregaon in Pune district earlier this year was pre-planned with a motive to overthrow the government and police have conclusive evidence to prove it, senior officials have said.

A senior Pune Police officer, who is monitoring the probe, told the Hindustan Times that preparations for creating an unrest during the Bhima Koregaon violence began eight months before the incident.

“With a large number of documents and other evidence we are confident to correlate before the court that Bhima Koregaon violence was pre-planned and the December 31 Elgar Parishad was one part of it,” a senior Indian Police Service officer said on the condition of anonymity.

The probe into the caste riots in Bhima Koregaon, 40 kilometres from Pune, has taken two routes – one indicating the involvement of Maoists and another about the role of members associated with rightwing Hindutva outfits.

One probe is being carried out by Pune urban police to check on the Maoist links to the Elgar Parishad event held on December 31 last year in Pune. The other is being carried out by the Pune rural police in which Samastha Hindutva Aghadi leader Milind Ekbote and Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishthan founder Sambhaji Bhide have been booked for orchestrating the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1.

The probe in the Bhima Koregaon violence case has not moved further two months after Ekbote was released on bail with the police not filing a charge sheet so far.

The fresh stand of the Pune Police is a departure from their earlier position that arrests made in the Elgar Parishad case were not linked to the violence in Bhima Koregaon. Pune Police made the first arrest of five activists on June 6 for their links with the banned organisation CPI(Maoist), which according to officials funded Elgar Parishad.

Police arrested five more prominent activists in the case, including lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, poet P Varavara Rao, activist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves on Tuesday. All of them have been kept under house arrest till September 6 as per the Supreme Court’s order.

“I can say that the scope of this case, in which activists linked to the Maoist outfit, is not just limited to Elgar Parishad. It’s much bigger,” Pune police commissioner K Venkatesham said. “The plan of CPI (Maoist), to which the arrested members are closely linked to, was to create an unrest to overthrow the current government. We have evidence to prove it,” Shivaji Bodkhe, joint commissioner of police, said.

Retired judge of the Bombay high court BG Kolse Patil, who was one of the organisers of Elgar Parishad, denied that the Bhima Koregaon violence was planned in advance. “If at all it was planned, it was done by Hindutva activists,” said Kolse Patil.

The prosecution told the court on Wednesday that the five activists, who were arrested on Tuesday, were at the top of the pyramid in the Maoist structure and gave instructions to foot soldiers through the second rung leadership, some of whom were arrested by the Pune Police during the June 6 multi-city action.

Among those arrested on June 6 were advocate Surendra Gadling, a Republican Panthers activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights activist Rona Wilson, former Prime Minister’s Rural Development fellow Mahesh Raut and retired Nagpur University professor Soma Sen.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 11:34 IST