Bhima-Koregaon violence: Fate of 622 cases hangs in balance
While the police on Wednesday arrested Samastha Hindu Aghadi founder Milind Ekbote for orchestrating January 1 violence at Bhima-Koregaon, the government has started the process of withdrawing cases related to Bhima-Koregaon after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis made the announcement in the assembly.
Among the 622 cases filed pertaining to violence, police have booked Dalit leader and Gujarat legislator Jignesh Mevani and JNU student Omar Khalid for promoting enmity between two groups and instigating violence.
A senior official from the Pune police on the condition of anonymity said that a report is being prepared bifurcating cases of serious nature and relatively lighter crimes. Once the report is compiled, we will send it to the government following which withdrawal of cases will begin” said the official.
Besides Mevani and Khalid, the Pune city police have also booked members of Kabir Kala Manch, a left-leaning cultural organisation while in the FIR registered by the Pune rural police, another Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide has been booked along with Ekbote. However, the police have not arrested either Bhide, Mevani or Khalid nor have they been called for interrogation, according to a senior officer.
In the state assembly session, Fadnavis said, “A committee headed by additional director general rank officer will review offences of serious nature. The committee will scrutinise the cases and submit its report.”
When asked if the city police will act against Mevani and Khalid, Ravindra Sengaonkar, additional commissioner of police, (North) said that the investigation is going on and the arrest is only a small part of the investigation. “Through the investigation, our aim is to collect appropriate evidence. We are scrutinising videos of speeches delivered by Khalid and Mevani. There are multiple other aspects who we are analysing,” said Sengaonkar.
The police have so far arrested 1,200 people for the Bhima-Koregaon violence in which around 3,000 people suffered injuries and property worth ₹13 crore was destroyed.
Violent protests broke out between two communities during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district. The violence had left a man dead and four others injured on January 1. In the FIR filed against Mevani and Khalid, the duo has been accused of delivering provocative speeches. Both have been charged under Sections 153(a), 505 and 177 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Mevani and Umar Khalid had attended ‘Elgar Parishad’, an event organised to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, at Shaniwarwada in the city on December 31.