NGO demands investigation into Elgaar Parishad funding which allegedly triggered the Bhima-Koregaon violence

A Bengaluru-based NGO, Citizens Forum for Justice (CFFJ) today demanded that a probe is carried out looking into the source of funding of the Elgaar Parishad meeting, held in Pune on December 31, last year, which allegedly triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon in the district the next day, reported India Today.

While speaking to reporters at the Indian Merchants Chamber, the CFFJ secretary, Uma Mahesh, demanded that an expert committee of historians must be constituted by the state government to bring out facts related to the last rites of Sambhaji Maharaj, the sanads given to Gopal Govind and others.

In a 67-page fact-finding report, submitted to the Governor, Ch Vidyasagar Rao, and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Mahesh argued that the Elgaar Parishad conclave at Shanivarwada in Pune and the clashes between Maratha and Scheduled Caste communities at Vadhu and Prerna marches organized by the left-wing organizations were linked to each other.

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Uma Mahesh furthered that, had the police took preventive measures well in advance and had there been adequate police deployed to tackle the situation the subsequent events that took place, (the Bhima-Koregaon violence) could have been avoided.

Kamal Mehta, a member of the CFFJ fact-finding committee, said that intentional attempts were made then to distort history and set up clashes between two communities. “The depositions made before us made it clear that the Elgaar Parishad leaders were aware of what was going to happen in Koregaon-Bhima.”

Last month, at a press conference, the Maharashtra police had also claimed that the Elgaar Parishad received funds worth Rs 15 lakh in two installments of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively, from the alleged Maoists.

Kamal Mehta further disclosed that despite repeated requests, the Elgar Parishad had never shared their version of the incident. Both Mehta and Mahesh admitted that the Inspector General of Police, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh (BBM) leader Prakash Ambedkar and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, had, however, not responded to their invitations to depose before them.

In March, a similar fact-finding report was submitted to the Maharashtra government by a Mumbai-based think tank, Forum for Integrated National Security (FINS), which also pointed towards the involvement of left-wing organisations in the Bhima-Koregaon violence and had blamed the police for not taking preventive action as they failed to gather facts about the states whereabouts.

The police investigation and subsequent reports have claimed that the Elgaar Parishad was involved in inciting violence the next day. Tushar Damgude, the man on whose FIR the Maharashtra police had launched the investigation into the Maoist links to the violence, had stated earlier that he had witnessed the meeting and there was a distribution of highly objectionable pamphlets and literature along with violence-inciting speeches during the gathering.

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