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Maharashtra govt.’s nod for transfer of Elgaar Parishad case to NIA ‘improper,’ says Sharad Pawar

NCP chief Sharad Pawar. | File

NCP chief Sharad Pawar. | File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

NCP chief, however, clarifies there are no problems among the coalition partners

While stating that the decision to grant consent for the transfer of the Elgaar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was entirely the prerogative of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar took a veiled jibe at Mr. Thackeray, remarking that the Maharashtra government’s decision was “improper”.

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“We felt that role of the Pune police in the Elgaar Parishad probe was objectionable. Under the Constitution, law and order is a State topic…It was not proper for the Central government to take over the investigation from the State in the first place. It is even more improper for the Maharashtra government to grant consent for this transfer,” Mr. Pawar said, speaking in Kolhapur on Friday.

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Following the formation of the new ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government in Maharashtra with the unlikely coalition of the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress, it was Mr. Pawar who, on January 10, wrote to the Chief Minister urging the constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) after publicly casting aspersions of the Pune police’s investigations in the case, which saw the arrest of prominent intellectuals, academics, lawyers and activists charged with alleged links to the Maoists.

After the MVA government initiated a review a few days later to probe the actions of the Pune police, the BJP government at the Centre swiftly acted with the Union Home Ministry on January 24 issuing an order transferring the case from the Pune police to the NIA.

“The State [MVA] government had a meeting on the issue [setting up of SIT to probe Pune police] between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The same day at 3 p.m., the Centre abruptly issues a notification directing the NIA to take over the case…while this process itself is improper, the Maharashtra government supporting it is even more improper,” said Mr. Pawar.

The NCP chief’s sharp reaction against his new ally, Mr. Thackeray, came a day after NCP leader and State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh claimed to have been allegedly “overruled” by the Chief Minister in the decision to grant consent to the NIA to take over the Elgaar Parishad case.

The issue could prove to be a source of possible fractiousness between the Sena and the NCP, with the latter being opposed to the transfer of the case records to the NIA.

However, responding to another question pertaining to alleged rifts within the MVA’s coordination committee, which comprises leaders from the three ideologically opposed parties, Mr. Pawar said that all was well and there were no problems among the Sena, the NCP and the Congress.

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Among those arrested in the Elgaar Parishdd case include poet-activist P. Varavara Rao, noted trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof. Shoma Sen and writer-publisher Sudhir Dhawale – all of whom are presently lodged at Pune’s Yerwada prison.

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The Pune City police’s case rests on an FIR registered at the city’s Vishrambaug police station (in January 2018) in connection with the Elgaar Parishad held at Pune’s Shaniwarwada Fort on December 31, 2017, as part of the bicentenary celebrations of the 1818 battle of Koregaon-Bhima.

The raids and subsequent arrests of these prominent activists and academics were based on this FIR, with the Pune police claiming to have extended the scope of their investigations to unearth alleged ‘Maoist links’ of these intellectuals.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 8:07:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-govts-nod-for-transfer-of-elgaar-parishad-case-to-nia-improper-says-sharad-pawar/article30820566.ece

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