Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad on Friday reiterated his allegation that the Bhima Koregaon violence was a “conspiracy” to create a fight within the Dalit community. Moreover, he cast aspersions over the arrest of activists in the Elgar Parishad case terming it as BJP’s attempt to malign the largest cause of Dalit activism. Alleging that the Maharashtra government had tapped the phones of some of the accused, he questioned the Fadnavis regime over the usage of the Pegasus software.
Jitendra Awhad remarked, “I was the first person to make the allegation that Bhima Koregaon (violence) is a conspiracy to create fights between the Dalits. I said it back then that ‘Urban Naxal’ is a BJP agenda to malign the Dalit activists, sympathisers and to finish off the Ambedkarite movement. I am happy that a probe is commencing. There are only two witnesses. Moreover, the phones of some of these individuals have been tapped. We are not saying this, Facebook informed them that their phone is being tapped. Did the Maharashtra government have the right to buy Pegasis software?”
पेगासेस आणि फोन टॅपिंग बद्दल भाजप प्रचंड अस्वस्थ आहे.फोन टॅपिंग ही विकृती आहे. ही विकृती कोणी केली हे संपूर्ण देशाला आणि जगाला कळाले पाहिजे.— Dr.Jitendra Awhad (@Awhadspeaks) January 24, 2020
आणि पेगासेस विकत घेण्याचा अधिकार महाराष्ट्र सरकारला होता का?@OfficeofUT @PawarSpeaks@ANI @CMOMaharashtra @BJP4Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/wcNXQt6L8W
Awhad’s statement comes a day after Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh reviewed the Bhima Koregaon and Elgar Parishad cases. Earlier, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had also demanded a fresh probe into the matter. According to Deshmukh, an SIT could be set up if the Pune police were unable to substantiate their charges against the arrested activists.
Violence had erupted at Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018, where supporters had gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. This resulted in the death of one person and leaving several injured. Subsequently, the Pune police arrested activists such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Vernon Gonsalves, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale and P Varavara Rao for allegedly inciting the Bhima Koregoan violence through their speech at the Elgar Parishad meeting on December 31, 2017.