Other States

‘Release activists, no need for NIA probe’

Transfer of case to NIA is a ploy to prolong the case, says Justice (retired) B.G. Kolse-Patil.

Transfer of case to NIA is a ploy to prolong the case, says Justice (retired) B.G. Kolse-Patil.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Former Bombay High Court judge, Justice (retired) B.G. Kolse-Patil on Monday lashed out at the Union Home Ministry’s sudden decision to transfer the investigation into the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon cases to National Investigation Agency (NIA), alleging that the Narendra Modi government feared an expose of the “false probe” conducted by the Maharashtra police.

“A BJP government was in the State at the time of the Bhima-Koregaon clashes [January 1, 2018] which occurred a day after the Elgaar Parishad. While it had allowed the State to conduct investigations at the time, what was the need for the Central government now to take over the case and hand it over to NIA. The Centre’s abrupt transferring of the case to the NIA has laid bare Pune police’s conspiracy [into the Bhima-Koregaon clashes] before the public. It is in keeping with the Modi government’s crackdown against minorities, Ambedkarite and tribal activism,” alleged Mr. Kolse-Patil, who, along with retired Supreme Court judge P. B. Sawant, was among the chief organisers of Elgaar Parishad on December 31, 2017.

Speaking in Pune, along with representatives from other social outfits, Mr. Kolse-Patil further said that in spite of FIRs being lodged against Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote within the first eight days of the clashes, the latter was out on bail and the former was not even probed by the authorities.

“We demand that the case be removed from the NIA’s hands and that the arrested activists be released forthwith. This is purely a move on the Centre’s part to prolong the trial of the incarcerated activists,” said Mr. Kolse-Patil.

He further claimed that the allegedly false probe by the Maharashtra police into the case and the subsequent branding of several noted progressives as ‘urban naxals’ was a deliberate ploy on part of the BJP government at the Centre to tarnish Justice (retd.) Sawant, who had recommended that Prime Minister Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah be prosecuted for their alleged roles in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

“At the time, when Justice Sawant had served on an Indian People’s Tribunal headed by justice V.R. Krishna Iyer to probe the Gujarat riots, he had indicted both Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah and had recommended that no constitutional post be given to them. So, the Modi government at the Centre is now getting back at us by branding participants in the Elgaar Parishad as ‘urban naxals’ and labelling and arresting those activists who weren’t even present during the event,” he said.

Anjum Inamdar, founder of the Mulnivasi Muslim Manch, said that the Pune Police, instead of bringing to book the perpetrators behind the clashes, had hatched a conspiracy against noted human rights activists and intellectuals by branding them as ‘urban naxals’.

In the aftermath of the Bhima-Koregaon riots of Jnauary 2018, the Pune city police, in its controversial probe, had stated that the Elgaar Parishad had triggered the Bhima-Koregaon clashes – a theory vehemently denied by several other activists and Justices (retd.) Sawant and Kolse-Patil.

The Pune police have booked 22 people and arrested nine eminent activist-intellectuals, including human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University English Professor Shoma Sen, trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonsalves among others in connection with the Elgaar Parishad, the Bhima-Koregaon clashes, and for alleged links with the Maoists.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 8:33:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/release-activists-no-need-for-nia-probe/article30669859.ece

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