The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Friday, 24 January, took over the Bhima- Koregaon case from the Pune police.
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh condemned the move in a tweet, saying the Centre took this decision after the new Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in Maharashtra decided to “get to the root of the matter”.
News agency PTI also quoted him as saying that the decision was “against the constitution.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to social media to criticise the MHA decision.
“Anyone who opposes the MOSH agenda of hate is an “Urban Naxal”. Bhima-Koregaon is a symbol of resistance that the Government’s NIA stooges can never erase.”Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi
The case pertains to the violence that had broken out near Bhima-Koregaon war memorial in Pune district on 1 January 2018.
Dalits visit the memorial in large numbers as it commemorates the victory of British forces which included Dalit Mahar soldiers over the army of the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of Pune in 1818.
The police had claimed that provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on 31 December 2017 had led to the violence, and Maoists were behind the conclave.
They later arrested several Left-leaning activists including Telugu poet Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj for their alleged links to Maoists.
‘Why Has Centre Lost Faith in Police?’: NCP
The Nationalist Congress Party sought to know why the Centre suddenly lost faith in the state police, PTI reported.
Within a day of NCP president Sharad Pawar demanding probe by a Special Investigation Team in the Koregaon-Bhima violence, the Ministry of Home Affairs transferred the case to the NIA, said NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase.
“What is the BJP afraid of? Why have they suddenly lost faith in Maharashtra Police?”Mahesh Tapase, NCP spokesperson
Some media reports had said that Pawar had written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that the violence was the result of a conspiracy hatched by the then BJP-led government in the state with the help of police, and had sought an SIT probe.
As per the NIA Act, when the Centre deems any case fit to be probed by the NIA, the state police has to transfer relevant records to the Central agency.
Earlier in the day, another NCP leader and minister Jitendra Awhad alleged that the Koregaon-Bhima violence case was a "conspiracy" of the previous BJP-led government to malign the image of activists sympathetic to Dalit causes, according to PTI.
"Taking action against those who recite poems of Namdeo Dhasal (a Marathi poet and Dalit activist) and arresting people on allegations of plotting to kill (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is too much. The case should be investigated again," the minister had said.
During the probe, Pune Police had claimed that Maoists and their supporters in urban areas were discussing a "Rajiv Gandhi-type" assassination plan against Modi.
Correct Decision to Expose the Urban Naxals: Fadnavis
Meanwhile the former chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis hailed the decision taken by the central government as “correct” and said that that case isn’t confined to just Maharashtra.
“It is the correct decision because this case isn't confined to Maharashtra, we see its spread all over the country. Central government has taken the right step, this will expose urban naxals,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)