Bhima Koregaon commission gets last extension; govt asks for report by Apr 8
The state government has granted a two-month extension to the commission, set up to probe the violence which broke out on January 1, 2018, at Bhima Koregaon, on Tuesday.
The notification issued by the state home department states, “Through this order, the commission is being granted the last extension till April 8, 2020… The commission will submit its report to the government during the extended period.”
A two-member inquiry commission, which was set up by the previous Devendra Fadnavis government to probe the January 1, 2018, caste riots at Bhima Koregaon, began working from February 2018 and has received four extensions so far.
The previous extension to the commission ended on November 9, 2019, after which the government increased the period till February 8. However, as the notification was awaited, the commission had practically stopped functioning since the past two days.
The two-member Bhima Koregaon inquiry commission is headed by retired chief justice of Calcutta High Court Jay Narayan Patel and includes former chief secretary Sumit Mullick as its member. VV Palnitkar is serving as the registrar of the commission. The commission functions with the powers of a civil court in two locations: the Public Information Office at Madam Cama road, Mumbai and the Zilla Parishad building at Bund garden, Pune.
The Mumbai office of the commission has received more than 500 affidavits from various people since the formation of the commission. Commission’s lawyer Ashish Satpute administers the oath and conducts cross examination of the witnesses. Prominent lawyer Shishir Hiray is representing the state. A total of 110 affidavits have been filed by various government and police officials.
Riots broke out on the occasion of the 200th commemoration day of the Bhima Koregaon battle in which the East India Company defeated the Peshwas with the help of Dalit soldiers. One person was killed in the riots and at least 11 persons were arrested, two of whom are currently out on bail.
Earlier, the commission secretary, VV Palnitkar, had said that the government has informed the commission about another extension. “Since deputy secretary Vyankatesh Bhatt’s office did not receive the file, he could not issue the notification even as the government has in principle approved the granting extension,” Palnitkar had said.
The Pune rural police had first accused leaders like Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide for orchestrating the riots, and the city police arrested nine activists for December 31, 2017, Elgar Parishad. The Elgar Parishad, according to police, “aggravated” violence the next day at Bhima Koregaon.
Among those arrested include human rights activists, intellectuals, social workers and lawyers under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Currently, the NIA has taken over the case and sought all the case documents from the special court.