Bhima Koregaon Violence: NCP supremo Sharad Pawar takes a U-turn, says cannot blame any group

Pawar had earlier given public statements that 'Right-wing forces' were behind the Bhima Koregaon violence.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar seems to have taken a U-turn with respect to his earlier statements relating to the Bhima-Koregaon violence that took place earlier this year.

According to the Indian Express report, the NCP chief Pawar has informed the Bhima-Koregaon Inquiry Commission that he was not in a position to ‘specifically make allegations against any particular organisation’ for the violence occurred near Pune on January 1 this year.

Interestingly, Pawar’s recent statements submitted before the inquiry commission is contradictory to his earlier public statements, where he had blamed the ‘right-wing forces’ for their alleged role in instigating riots in and around Pune. Pawar had said that few villagers had informed about alleged camping of Hindutva groups near Bhima-Koregaon before the violence took place.

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Pawar’s recent submissions come as the Maharastra government appointed Judicial commission had asked all the political parties to ‘assist it’ by submitting affidavits containing information they hold regarding the violence. The Maharashtra government had appointed a judicial commission, under retired justice Jai Narayan Patel, to conduct a probe into the Bhima-Koregaon violence. Besides Justice Patel, a former chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick is also a part of the two-member panel.

Sharad Pawar in his affidavit has blamed the Maharastra government for not ensuring adequate security arrangements at Koregaon Bhima. “It is unfortunate that the state government and the law enforcement authorities failed to protect the interests of the common man residing at Koregaon Bhima and around localities in Pune district… the active role of right-wing forces behind the violence in Koregaon Bhima can’t be ruled out. However, concrete evidence can be gathered only by the law enforcement agencies of the state,” he said.

Pawar has blamed the Fadnavis government for the complete failure of the law and order machinery to control a socially sensitive matter. According to Pawar, the measures adopted by the police department was inadequate to control the riots.

Interestingly, Pawar has restrained from naming either Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, two Hindutva leaders who have been accused of instigating the violence. Reportedly, even in his Rajya Sabha speech had refrained taking names of these leaders but had rather focussed on blaming the state government. This reversal of his earlier stand from Sharad Pawar can be seen as an attempt to carefully position himself and his party NCP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Pawar in his affidavit blamed that social media campaign to distort historical facts and ‘maliciously propagated’ lead incite violence ahead of events on January 1. “It is unfortunate that some anti-social elements instigated violence for gaining political mileage. Unfortunately, historical facts were concocted and maliciously propagated through social media”, said Pawar.

He added that a lot of rumor-mongering happened through various WhatsApp groups, Twitter handles, Facebook and other social media sites to instigate violence and between two communities, which peacefully lived with each other for the last many decades. Pawar added that ‘reasonable restrictions’ needed to be imposed on freedom of speech when serious threats to law and order existed.

The violence had broken out in the Pune district, prior to the 200th celebration of a British victory over the Peshwas. This ‘victory’ has been spun by leftist historians as a ‘victory of Dalits’, owing to the British army supposedly comprising of Dalits and other lower castes while the ruling Peshwas were Brahmins.

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