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Pune police join dots to prove Bhima Koregaon violence was ‘pre-planned’

A police official says they have large amount of documents and other evidence to correlate before the court that Bhima Koregaon violence was pre-planned and the December 31 Elgar Parishad was one part of it.

pune Updated: Aug 31, 2018 16:56 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Bhima Koregaon,Pune,Elgar Parishad
Police personnel at Bhima Koregaon Vijay Stambh after the violence on January 1, 2018. A senior official from Pune police monitoring the probe told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity that preparations for creating unrest during the Bhima Koregaon violence began eight months before the incident.(HT FILE PHOTO)

The January 1 violence at Bhima Koregaon, some 40 kilometres from Pune, was pre-planned and police have ‘conclusive evidence’ to prove it, claimed officials a day after the Supreme Court ordered that the five arrested persons be kept under house arrest.

A senior official from Pune police monitoring the probe told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity that preparations for creating unrest during the Bhima Koregaon violence began eight months before the incident.

“With large amount 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,” said an IPS rank police official.

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

On Wednesday, the 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. All have now been kept under house arrest till September 6 as per the apex court order.

There is yet another FIR filed by Pune rural police in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence in which members of Hindutva outfits Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide have been booked. The probe in the case hasn’t moved further two months after Ekbote was released on bail with the police not filing a charge sheet so far.

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

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

Earlier on Wednesday, the prosecution told the court that the five activists were at the top of the pyramid in Maoist structure and were giving instructions to foot soldiers through 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; Sudhir Dhawale, a Republican Panthers activist; Rona Wilson, a human rights activist; Mahesh Raut, a former ‘Prime Minister rural development fellow’ and Soma Sen, a retired Nagpur University professor.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 16:55 IST