Koregaon Bhima inquiry panel to summon Sharad Pawar

Koregaon Bhima inquiry panel to summon Sharad Pawar

The Koregaon Bhima inquiry commission has decided to summon NCP chief Sharad Pawar for deposition in the case of caste violence in 2018.

PUNE: The Koregaon Bhima inquiry commission has decided to summon NCP chief Sharad Pawar for deposition in the case of caste violence in 2018.

The commission's chairman, retired Justice JN Patel, noted that Pawar has filed an affidavit before the panel and he would be summoned to depose, the judicial panel's lawyer Ashish Satpute told PTI on Tuesday.

"A summon to this effect will be issued," he said.

Pawar is likely to be summoned during the last phase of the hearing by the commission, the lawyer added.

Earlier this month, the Shiv Sena-led state government gave the "final" extension to the commission till April 8 this year and asked the panel to submit its report.

Last week, social group Vivek Vichar Manch member Sagar Shinde filed an application before the commission, seeking summoning of Pawar in view of certain statements made by him in the media about the 2018 caste violence.

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 the outskirts of Pune city, and its vicinity.

"In the same press conference, 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 of the plea.

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.

Pawar filed the affidavit before the commission on October 8, 2018.

The commission is headed by former Bombay high court Chief Justice JN Patel. Former Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mullick is the other member of the judicial panel.

The commission was set up when the BJP was in power in Maharashtra.

Pawar's party is now a key constituent in the Shiv Sena-led government in the state.

The former Union minister, in his affidavit, 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 and order machinery."

He also stated that he 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," he said.

Pawar further stated that the active role of "right- wing" forces behind the violence at Koregaon Bhima cannot be ruled out.

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

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

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

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

The Pune police have alleged that "provocative" speeches at the 'Elgar Parishad conclave', held on December 31, 2017, triggered the violence.

According to the police, the Elgar Parishad conclave organisers had links with Maoists.

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