'No Objection Over NIA Probing Bhima Koregaon Case,' Maha Govt Now Says

Last week, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had criticised the Centre's decision.

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has said it has no objection to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) taking over probe into the Bhima Koregaon case.

The Centre last month transferred the probe in the case from Pune Police to the NIA, a decision which was then criticised by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra.

However, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Sanjay Kumar told PTI on Thursday that “the state Home department has no objection to the case being entrusted to the NIA”.

Last week, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray criticised the Centre’s decision, saying the Union government has all rights to step into the probe, but it should have taken the state government into confidence before handing over the investigation to NIA.

He said the case was handed over to NIA when NCP chief Sharad Pawar was demanding a probe into it by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Also read: ‘Centre’s Decision to Hand Bhima Koregaon to NIA Unconstitutional’: Maha Home Minister

The NIA last week filed an application before a sessions court in Pune, seeking transfer of case papers, seized data, court records and proceedings to the special NIA court in Mumbai.

However, the prosecution then opposed NIA’s application, saying the reasons given by central probe agency in its plea were not legal and sufficient to transfer the case to a special NIA court.

“The offence is committed within the jurisdiction of local court; charge sheet has filed and draft charges have been also filed and the matter is fixed for framing of charges,” the prosecution had said in its response.

The case is related to speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, and the next day’s violence near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial in the district.

The Pune Police claimed that the conclave was backed by Maoists, and the speeches made there triggered the violence.

During the probe, the police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.