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Bhima-Koregaon clashes: Will not permit Centre to take over probe, says Uddhav Thackeray to Ambedkarites

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre had taken the probe into the Elgaar Parishad case from the Maharashtra government and turned it over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), but the State government would never permit the probe into the Bhima-Koregaon clashes to be handed over to the Centre, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on February 18.Speaking on the second day of his Konkan tour, Mr. Thackeray stressed that the Elgaar Parishad case and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes (of January 1, 2018) were two separate issues.“The Elgaar Parishad case and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes are two separate matters. The Ambedkarite fraternity is concerned with the Bhima-Koregaon riots…I have not turned over the investigations into the clashes over to the Centre and nor am I about to do so in the future,” assured the Chief Minister.Remarking that the atrocities on the Dalit community during the riots were “unfortunate”, Mr. Thackeray promised that under no circumstances would he permit any further injustice against the Ambedkarite community.Also read | Understanding Bhima Koregaon“I reiterate that the violence at Bhima-Koregaon in 2018, which concerns the Dalit community, is distinct from the Elgaar Parishad investigations. The Centre has taken over the latter case from the State government and not the former. Let there be no misunderstanding over the matter,” the Chief Minister said.His remarks come a day after his alliance partner, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), made it clear that there was a need for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in order to independently probe the Elgaar Parishad case.Mr. Pawar, who has been the prime mover for the constitution of a SIT after publicly casting aspersions on the Pune police’s investigations in the case, had recently expressed displeasure after Mr. Thackeray’s decision to consent transferring the Elgaar Parishad case over to the NIA.The Elgaar Parishad probe has caused faultlines within the tripartite MVA government, with the NCP and the Congress gunning for the constitution of an SIT while Mr. Thackeray and the Sena are not too keen on probing the issue further.Ambedkarite outfit seeks SIT probe Reacting to Mr. Thackeray’s statements, the Republican Yuva Morcha (RYM), a Pune-based Ambedkarite outfit, said that if the Chief Minister was truly concerned about no further injustice to the Dalit community, then it must immediately constitute a separate SIT to probe afresh the Bhima-Koregaon riots as well.Also read | Dubious decision: On NIA takeover of Bhima Koregaon case“Chief Minister Thackeray’s consent to transfer of the Elgaar Parishad case over to the NIA, and thereby to the Centre, has hurt secular outfits as well as disappointed the Sena’s alliance partners, the NCP and the Congress. If he indeed is concerned about providing speedy justice for the Ambedkarite community regarding the Bhima-Koregaon clashes, then he must form a SIT to probe the riots anew and fast-track the case given that the Koregaon Bhima judicial commission [set up to probe the riots] has proved itself utterly ineffective,” said RYM president Rahul Dambale.Mr. Dambale said that he had already written to Mr. Thackeray regarding this earlier this year and urged the Chief Minister to direct the Pune Rural police to file a charge sheet in the Bhima Koregaon case and set up a trial court to probe the role of radical Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, alleged to be the chief orchestrators of the clashes.CAA, NRC different: CMWhen questioned about his party’s stance on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), Mr. Thackeray reiterated that they were different issues that there was no need to worry even if the CAA was implemented in Maharashtra.“The CAA, the NRC are different and the National Population Register (NPR) is different. Even If CAA is implemented in Maharashtra, it will not cause any harm to anyone. There is no talk on the NRC being implemented as of now. If it [NRC] is implemented, it will not only affect the Muslim community but Hindus and the Adivasi sections as well. As far as the NPR is concerned, this is as same as a census which is held every 10 years and is not likely to affect anyone,” he said.Refinery projectSpeaking on other issues, Mr. Thackeray further clarified the Sena’s stance on the Ratnagiri Refinery Petrochemical Limited project, known as the ‘Nanar refinery’ project.The Chief Minister was responding to questions regarding a recent advertisement for the project in the Konkan edition of Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna. The advertisement has raised eyebrows and triggered talk of the scuppered project being revived despite Mr. Thackeray and his party’s vehement opposition to it in the past.“I take all decisions regarding the Shiv Sena and the stance that is to be adopted by the party on any issue is decided by me. No entity that gives any advertisement in the Saamna ever decides the Sena’s stance,” Mr. Thackeray said, adding that the Nanar issue was closed as far as he was concerned and that it was not even worth commenting on.

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