Other States

Maharashtra likely to set up SIT to probe ‘urban naxal’ cases

Home Minister to review progress in Elgar Parishad cases on Thursday

Based on a letter from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, the Maharashtra government will soon appoint a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to relook into cases against ‘urban naxals’ for an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sources in the Maharashtra Home Department said the NCP supremo drafted a two-page letter along with a dossier on January 10, detailing the possibility of “cooked up” charges against nine activists arrested by the Pune Police in connection with the violence in Bhima Koregaon. He also termed the police action as “wrong and vengeful”. The letter was received by the Home Department on January 10.

In the letter, Mr. Pawar has requested that the SIT be headed by a retired judge and must have in its scope review of testimonies, electronic evidence and other ‘fabricated’ facts levelled against the activists, who were, as per the Pune Police charge sheet, found in possession of a letter detailing an “assassination conspiracy” against Mr. Modi.

The reliability of the ‘conspiracy’ letter be also verified, while looking into the role of senior police officer in charge of the investigations, Mr. Pawar wrote. “This is as detailed a dossier as one could draft, and gives a feeling it has been prepared with the help of several experts. We have a letter from him [Sharad Pawar] received on January 10, demanding the government set up an SIT,” said a Home Ministry official.

Home Department sources said a review of the investigations into the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima violence, will be held on Wednesday. An in principle approval to form an SIT will also be taken during the meet, senior officials said. “Tomorrow we are reviewing the investigations by the Pune Police. Not only will we find out where the investigation stands, We will also try and also find out what is going on in these cases. We have several representations in this regard,” Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said.

Violence between Dalits and Marathas broke out at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune on January 1, 2018, following an event called Elgar Parishad that was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 between the East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy.

Following the violence several activists connected to Parishad were arrested in August 2018, including Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao – accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The Pune Police charge sheet also alleged that a letter recovered from one of those accused had revealed an “assassination conspiracy” against PM Narendra Modi.

The BJP has already said it will oppose any attempts to review cases against ‘supporters of the naxals’ in urban areas.

BJP leader and Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dr. Mahendranath Pandey had recently hit out at Maharashtra government for attempting to withdraw cases related to the Bhima Koregaon violence and ‘urban naxals’ responsible for allegedly plotting against the Prime Minister.

“The BJP will oppose any polluted view while reviewing or withdrawing cases. The Narendra Modi government has worked on the naxal menace in the rural areas and reduced its to few districts from an earlier spree of over 300 districts,” Dr. Pandey had said adding even some persons in the urban areas with a ‘naxal mentality’ were controlled. “It is this control these naxalites in urban areas are opposed to since their livelihood is dependent on the urban naxal ecosystem.”

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:33:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-likely-to-set-up-sit-to-probe-urban-naxal-cases/article30629035.ece

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