In an interview with Shiv Sena-run Marathi newspaper, Saamana, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday reacted to the transferring of the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad cases to the NIA. Thackeray said that the Central government should have taken the state government into confidence on Bhima Koregoan case transfer.
Thackeray said, "The State government was investigating the matter and nobody denied the Central government' the right to investigate the case, but before stepping in on the case they should have taken the state government into confidence or at least must have let us know where we are going wrong with the investigation."
"The Centre also has a duty to let the State know where they are going wrong and pointing out or mistakes. If our investigation was going in the wrong direction the Centre should have told us about it. This is not a one-way issue, does the centre not trust or believe in the investigation carried out by the state? This is an important part and that is why the relationship between the State and the centre can go in the wrong direction," he added.
Further talking about Sharad Pawar's accusation on Centre over the case, Thackeray said, "I am looking at this issue with no biases. Everybody has their right to present their point of view over the issue. I might be having a different opinion whereas Sharad Pawar may be having his own different view. Even the Congress and BJP may be having their own opinion. But having an opinion and investigating the case according is two different things. Even though Sharad Pawar has made a comment it doesn't mean the police investigation will follow the same angle. I have spoken to Pawar over this and we have decided to investigate the matter in an unbiased manner."
Addressing a press briefing on January 25, 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. 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.