Elgar Parishad Event Had No Role in Bhima Koregaon Violence, Admits Top Cop

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Clarion India

NEW DELHI — A senior official looking into caste violence against members of the Dalit community at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018, admitted on oath that the Elgar Parishad event on December 31, 2017, which happened thirty kilometers away from the city of Pune had no role in the violence.

According to reports, Sub-Divisional Police Officer Ganesh More told the two-member commission, headed by Justice (Retd) JN Patel, that nine cases of atrocities filed within his jurisdiction and investigated by him showed that there was no link between the Elgar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence.

“I did not come across any information or material to show that the incident of riots which took place on 1st January 2018, was a result of holding of Elgar Parishad on 31st December 2017 at Shaniwar Wada, Pune,” More said while answering a question by advocate Rahul Makhare, representing one of the witnesses of the violence, according to The Wire.

More, who recently retired from service, was the senior officer in charge of arrangements in the area on January 1, 2018, Rediff reported.

He told the commission that when he was on duty at Vadhu Budruk village, which is 3.5 kilometres away from Bhima Koregaon, he had dispersed a crowd of around 1,200 men with saffron flags.

Dalit groups and political activists have accused Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide of instigating the violence through hate speeches before the incident. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had also earlier raised suspicion about the role of Hindutva groups in the violence.

This crucial admission made by Sub-Divisional Police Officer Ganesh More in front of the two-person judicial commission looking into the violence shatters the allegations made against the 16 human rights advocates detained in a separate case by the Pune police and subsequently the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The two-member judicial commission, which is led by former Calcutta High Court Chief Justice JN Patel and includes former Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mullick, began hearings in early 2018. Since then, the commission has requested numerous extensions and has held regular hearings in Pune and Mumbai. Along with the victims, the state apparatus, including the police and intelligence unit, has filed affidavits.

Advocate Makhare, on Tuesday, accused the Maharashtra government of suppressing evidence in the case.

“All along we have pointed to the evidence that clearly shows the direct role of Milind Ekbote and Manohar Kulkarni alias Sambhaji Bhide in the violence,” he told The Wire. “The FIRs lodged by the victims too point to their roles and those associated with their organisation working for many years in the Bhima Koregaon region.”

Sudhir Dhawale, a writer and Mumbai-based Dalit rights activist, and Mahesh Raut, a young activist from Gadchiroli who worked on displacement, Shoma Sen, former head of Nagpur University’s English literature department, advocates Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj, activist-writer Varavara Rao, activist Vernon Gonsalves, prisoners’ rights activist Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, a UAPA expert and lawyer from Nagpur, tribal rights activist the late Father Stan Swamy, Delhi University professor Hany Babu, scholar and activist Anand Teltumbde, civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha, Kabir Kala Manch members Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Ghaichor, and Jyoti Jagtap are the sixteen members arrested in the case.

Teltumbde, Bharadwaj, and Rao have been released on bail, but Swamy died last year allegedly as a result of the state’s negligence and failure to provide adequate medical care.

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