NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday held that Bhima Koregaon violence and Elgar Parishad are two different cases and reiterated the demand of an SIT to probe the former. "Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon have no relation. Elgar Parishad was held two days before the violence (at Bhima Koregaon)," said Pawar in a press briefing in Mumbai.
Notable is the fact that earlier in the day, Maharashtra CM and NCP's alliance partner Uddhav Thackeray was quoted saying the same thing.
"In the Bhima Koregaon case, Maharashtra Police has mentioned a lot of things in the investigation. Locals have been cooperative with people coming there for many years. Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote created a different atmosphere at that place and launched a campaign over it, which we got to see there," Pawar said, referring to the two right-wing figures who were booked for instigating and orchestrating violence on January 1, 2018, at Bhima Koregaon village during a public event.
Sharad Pawar also slammed the takeover of the Elgar Parishad case by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) alleging that the Central government has "abused its powers". Taking on the erstwhile Fadnavis government, Sharad Pawar said that the state government put matters in front of the court in such a way that no one can in the case get a bail.
"People have been in jail for two years as their bail plea got rejected. The judiciary has also called for a thorough investigation of the entire matter. I know that if properly investigated, the truth of those arrested will come out and the injustice done to them will be revealed. On this, the state government was meeting at 9 in the morning, but by evening, the central government took the matter to itself. This is abuse of power."
This comes a day after state Minister of Minority Development and NCP leader Nawab Malik stated that the state government will carry out a parallel enquiry in Bhima Koregaon case through Special Investigation Team (SIT). He had said that state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh will soon announce the decision over forming the SIT.
CM Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar have locked horns over the transfer of the Elgar Parishad case from the Maharashtra police to NIA. Pawar had pushed for a separate probe into the case, stating that the previous government labelled all dissent as 'anti-national'. Soon, after the state government started reviewing the case, the Centre transferred the case to the NIA, which was opposed by the state government — the home ministry challenged the decision in a Pune court.
The police believe that the speech at the Elgar Parishad meeting on December 31, 2017, incited violence on the following day which had resulted in the death of one person and several others had been injured. Draft charges have been framed against the nineteen accused.