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Koregaon Bhima Commission Summons NCP Chief Sharad Pawar to Depose as Witness

Due to COVID-19, the Commission has decided to put off the hearings in Pune till the month-end. Pawar will appear before Koregaon Bhima panel on April 4.

Pune| The Koregaon Bhima Inquiry Commission has asked NCP chief Sharad Pawar to depose before it as a witness in the 2018 caste-violence case, the panel’s lawyer Ashish Satpute said on Wednesday.

Pawar will have to appear before the commission in Mumbai, as the scheduled hearing by the commission was shifted there in view of coronavirus outbreak.

IPS officer Mohammed Suvez Haque, who was the superintendent of Pune rural police when the Koregaon Bhoma violence took place on January 1, 2018, and the then additional superintendent of Pune rural police, Sandeep Pakhale, have been called for deposing as a witness on March 30 and 31.

Also, Ravindra Sengaonkar, the then additional commissioner (south region) of Pune city police, under whose jurisdiction the Elgaar Parishad took place at Shaniwar Wada on December 31, 2017, has also been summoned before the commission on April 1 and 3. Besides, Saurabh Rao, the then district collector of Pune, has been summoned for deposing as a witness on April 3 and 4.

In a statement issued by V V Palnitkar, Secretary to the Commission said: “In the view of coronavirus outbreak, Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry has decided to postpone all hearings scheduled at Pune during last week of March. It is further notified that these hearings will take place in Mumbai from March 30 to April 4. Detailed schedules of hearing will be notified.”

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Last month, the commission was given “final extension” till April 8 this year by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government to submit its report.

Violence erupted in Koregaon Bhima and nearby areas on January 1, 2018, during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Koregaon-Bhima battle.

The Pune Police have alleged that “provocative” speeches at the ‘Elgar Parishad conclave’, held on December 31, 2017, triggered the violence.

According to the police, the Elgar Parishad conclave organisers had links with Maoists.

In December, Pawar termed the arrest of activists in the Elgar Parishad case “wrong” and “vengeful”. He had also demanded that a Special Investigation Team be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune police.

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