Bhima-Koregaon panel set to summon NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Updated on Feb 25, 2020 02:30 AM IST

On February 20, a Pune-based Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated think-tank, Vivek Vichar Manch, filed an application demanding Pawar be summoned for a hearing before the commission probing the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018.

NCP Chief Sharad Pawar along with Jitendra Awhad , minister of housing arrives for NCP party minister's meeting.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
NCP Chief Sharad Pawar along with Jitendra Awhad , minister of housing arrives for NCP party minister's meeting.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By

A state-appointed two-member commission, which is probing the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018, has decided to call Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to depose before it.

The commission has decided to allow him to be cross-examined by the Vivek Vichar Manch, an organisation that has filed an application requesting the same.

“The commission has decided to call Mr Pawar, and accordingly issue a summons. The decision was taken by the commission as he is the only political leader who has filed an affidavit in the matter before the commission. The applicant from Vivek Vichar Manch has also been apprised that he will be allowed to cross examine him at the same time,” said lawyer Ashish Satpute, representing the commission.

On February 20, a Pune-based Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated think-tank, Vivek Vichar Manch, filed an application demanding Pawar be summoned for a hearing before the commission probing the Bhima-Koregaon violence on January 1, 2018.

The applicant, Sagar Shinde, has made the demand after Pawar made a public statement that right-wing activists Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote created an atmosphere that induced violence. “It appears he [Pawar] has more information about the incident and hence, we want him to appear before the commission so that we can cross-examine him,” said Pradeep Gavade, who is representing Shinde and Vivek Vichar Manch.

On February 18, the NCP chief alleged that Bhide and Ekbote were responsible for creating an atmosphere of animosity in the area among the locals ahead of the 200th anniversary celebrations of a 1818 war at the war memorial in Pune district, which led to violence on January 1, 2018. He had said prior to this, there was no history of a rift between locals and visiting Dalits, who gathered every year at the war memorial.

In his affidavit filed in October 2018, Pawar had said that he is not in a position to blame any particular organisation for the violence.

The Manch had released a fact-finding report on the incident, blaming Maoists and demanding an inquiry into the role of organisations, namely Kabir Kala Manch and Republican Panthers, which organised the Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017 in Pune, which they claimed led to the violence.

The organisation had earlier also demanded an inquiry into the role of former JNU student and activist Umar Khalid and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani in organising this event. The report had given a clean chit to a Hindutva organisation, Shiv Pratishtan Hindustan, led by Sambhaji Bhide, which was accused of instigating the riots. “The violence was orchestrated by outfits inclined to the Maoist ideology and those falsifying history to create tension in the society,” stated the report.

The Bhima-Koregaon war was won by the British Army manned by Dalit soldiers against the ruling Peshwas, Brahmin rulers.

The Pune Police had then filed cases against activists and intellectuals, linked to Leftist and Dalit movements, linking them to Elgar Parishad, a gathering held on December 31, 2017. The activists were accused of inciting violence and having Maoist links.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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