NIA team takes over probe into Bhima Koregaon case
New Delhi, Jan 28: A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team arrived in Pune and started the process of formally taking over probe into the Koregaon-Bhima- Elgar Parishad case, police officials said here.
The three-member team of the central agency landed on Monday morning and later met officials of the city police handling the sensitive case, which has triggered a new round of war of words between ruling and opposition parties in Maharashtra, the sources said.
The case, in which human rights activists have been arrested, pertains to caste violence that took place near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018, following alleged provocative speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held the previous day.
A top official said the NIA team, led by a Superintendent of Police-rank officer, met senior police officials, including the investigation officer, and handed them a letter, informing that the case has been entrusted to the central agency and they will take over it.
He said relevant authorities in the state government have been informed about the move.
The NIA team also took a review of the case from officials concerned.
Another official associated with the probe said they have already informed the DGP office in Mumbai about the developments related to the NIA starting the process to formally take charge of the case.
"Once the DGP office orders us to handover case- related documents and evidence, we will do so," he said.
Earlier in the day, the special court in Pune hearing the Elgar case maintained it has not yet received any formal communication from the Centre about its decision to transfer the matter to the NIA.
A lawyer representing one of the accused said that on raising in the court the issue of the central agency taking over the case, the prosecution and the judge informed him they have not received any official communication about it.
The NIA matter was raised in the court during a regular hearing regarding handing over of 'cloned copies' of electronic evidence to accused.
The case was transferred by the Centre from the Pune police to the NIA, an agency that handles terror-related matters, on Friday, a move criticised by the three-party ruling coalition in the state.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had on Friday night condemned the Centre's decision to transfer the case to the NIA without consent of the state government. The NCP minister had termed the move as unconstitutional.
The opposition BJP, however, welcomed the move.
The Pune police have claimed speeches delivered at the conclave, held on December 31, 2017, led to the violence at Koregaon Bhima the next day. The police have claimed the conclave was organised by people having Maoist links.
During the probe into the violence, police arrested human rights activists and intellectuals Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.
They were booked under relevant sections of the IPC and also UAPA, an anti-terror law.