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Koregaon-Bhima probe panel urged to summon Pawar


Pune, Feb 21: The Koregaon-Bhima judicial inquiry commission has received an application seeking summoning of NCP president Sharad Pawar in view of certain statements made by him in the media about the 2018 caste violence near Pune.

Sagar Shinde, a member of the Vivek Vichar Manch, a social group, on Thursday filed the application before the panel through his advocate Pradip Gawade, seeking that Pawar be asked to depose before the two-member commission.

File photo of Sharad Pawar

In his plea, Shinde cited a press conference of Pawar held on February 18.

As per the application, at the press meet Pawar alleged that right-wing activists Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide had created a "different" atmosphere in Koregaon-Bhima, located on outskirts of Pune city, and its vicinity.

"In the same press conference, Mr Pawar also alleges that the role of Pune city police commissioner is doubtful and must be investigated. These statements are within the purview of the terms of reference of this commission and therefore they are relevant," Shinde said the plea.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar demands Centre to form trust to build mosque in AyodhyaNCP chief Sharad Pawar demands Centre to form trust to build mosque in Ayodhya

The applicant said he has reasons to believe Pawar has relevant and additional information, apart from what he has already shared in his earlier affidavit filed before the panel regarding the violence and other related matters.

"Therefore, in the interest of justice, this applicant makes a prayer to the commission to issue a summon to Mr Pawar and require him to depose in person and furnish additional information he has so that the commission can arrive at its findings in a just and fair manner," he said.

Pawar had, on October 8, 2018, filed an affidavit before the commission, headed by former Bombay High Court Chief Justice J N Patel. Former Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mullick is the other member of the judicial panel.

The former Union minister, in his affidavit, had stated, "I would not be in a position to factually point out the chronology of the said events as that would be the domain of the existing Law andOrder machinery."

He had also stated, "I would not be in a position to specifically make allegations against any particular organisation.

"However, it is unfortunate that the state government and law and enforcement authorities failed to protect the interest of the common man residing at Koregaon Bhima and its vicinity."

Pawar''s party is now a key constituent in the Shiv Sena-led government in the state. The commission was set up when the BJP was in power in Maharashtra.

The former chief minister had further stated the active role of "right-wing" forces behind the violence at Koregaon Bhima can not be ruled out.

However, concrete evidence in this regard can be gathered only by law enforcement agencies of the state, he had said in the affidavit.

Gathering of anti-social elements in large numbers at Koregaon Bhima indicated the failure of law enforcement agencies, the NCP leader had told the panel.

"Hence, thestate of Maharashtra has to own the responsibility of a failed law and order situation on January 1, 2018," he had stated.

On January 1, 2018, violence had erupted in Koregaon Bhima and nearby areas during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Koregaon-Bhima battle.

The commission was constituted by the then BJP government to find out what led to the violence.

The Pune police have alleged "provocative" speeches given at the ''Elgar Parishad conclave'', held on December 31, 2017, triggered the violence. According to the police, Elgar Parishad conclave organsiers had links with Maoists.

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