NEW DELHI: On a day the Maharashtra government dubbed Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad cases as 'BJP's conspiracy', the center on Friday decided to transfer the politically sensitive Elgar Parishad case to central agency-National Investigating Agency (NIA).
Interestingly, the state government was also considering to set up an SIT to probe into police action against activists in the Elgar Parishad case in which eminent lawyers and activists were arrested for alleged links with CPI (Maoist).
The move is set to create fissures in Centre-state relations. Earlier, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray agreed to withdraw the cases filed against Dalit activists after continuous demand for withdrawal of the case by NCP-with whom Thackeray has formed an alliance government in the state However, the CM had said that charges will be dropped only against those with less serious charges.
Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad on Friday alleged that the Bhima Koregaon violence was a 'conspiracy' to create fights within the Dalit community. Awhad also cast aspersions over the arrest of activists in the case terming it as BJP's attempt to malign the largest cause of Dalit activism.
Alleging that the Maharashtra government had tapped the phones of some of the accused, he questioned the Fadnavis regime over the usage of the Pegasus software.
Sources in the government said that Union Home Ministry has issued an order to this effect and the order for probing the politically sensitive case has been received by NIA.
On Thursday, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh reviewed the Bhima Koregaon and Elgar Parishad cases.
Earlier, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had also demanded a fresh probe into the matter. Deshmukh had said that an SIT could be set up if the Pune police were unable to substantiate their charges against the arrested activists.
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. Recently, the Maharashtra police had told the state government that a fresh probe should not be ordered into the Elgar Parishad case by insisting that the evidence they had was credible. Police also denied charges of planting evidence.
In the related Elgar Parishad case, Pune police booked activists 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, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
They are also being probed for having alleged Naxal links in organizing the Parishad. Currently, all accused are in jail after their bail pleas were rejected.