Addressing a press briefing on Saturday, NCP chief Sharad Pawar lashed out at the Centre for transferring the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad cases to the NIA. He recalled that even former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had not branded the arrested activists as Maoists in his initial statement. Maintaining that law and order was a state subject, he questioned the Centre for transferring the cases to the NIA just 5 hours after Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh held a review meeting in this regard. Furthermore, the NCP chief alleged that the rationale of this move was to avoid the malafide actions of the officers in the previous regime from being exposed.
Sharad Pawar said, “There are two cases- Bhima Koregaon and Elgar Parishad. Devendra Fadnavis made a statement on the floor of the Assembly three months after this incident. In that statement, nowhere did he say that they are Maoists. The Chief Minister was himself the Home Minister. I felt that there should be a thorough probe into this matter.”
He added, “Within 5 hours of the Deputy CM and Home Minister conducting a review meeting of the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, the Centre took away the entire case and handed it over to the NIA. According to the Constitution, law and order is a state subject. I admit that after the passage of the NIA Act, the Centre has more powers. What was the need to take away the case in such a hurry? I think that this has been done to avoid the malafide actions of the officers back then from being exposed.”
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.