Elgar Parishad investigating officer to depose before Inquiry Commission
The State has been asked to file the affidavit of Shivaji Pawar on or before August 15, 2022.
The Bhima Koregaon Commission of Inquiry has asked police officer Shivaji Pawar, to file an affidavit presenting the evidence supporting allegations that provocative speeches made at Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017 led to violence in Bhima-Koregaon the next day. The State has been asked to file the affidavit of Pawar, who was the then Assistant Commissioner of Pune Police and investigating officer of the Elgar Parishad case, on or before August 15, 2022.
“We are satisfied that Shivaji Pawar will be an important witness before the Commission,” said the order signed by the Chairman retired Justice Jainarayan Patel and member Sumit Mullick.
Senior lawyer BA Desai, on behalf of applicants Sanjay N Lakhepatil and Harshali Potdar said that Inspector General of Police Ravindra Sengaonkar, who was the Additional Commissioner (South Region) of Pune City Police at the time, had relied upon the affidavit filed by Pawar’s report to in this regard to the Supreme Court. Thus, he had submitted that in the interest of proper inquiry, it was essential that Shivaji Pawar should be summoned by the Commission of Inquiry.
It was the Pune City Police that emphasised that the Elgar Parishad was responsible for the violence that broke out at Bhima-Koregaon where lakhs of bahujans had gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon on January 1, 2018.
Desai also added that calling Pawar as a witness was necessary in view of maintaining the impartiality of the investigation process. “The police have selectively disclosed the purported details of the investigation to the media and TV channels. Such acts of investigating officers cast a cloud on the impartiality of the investigation process,” he had submitted.
Moreover, in the past year, reports by two US-based cybersecurity firms have made some serious allegations against Pune Police in this regard. The reports have alleged that the police had planted evidence in the electronic devices of some of the accused in the case. A total of 16 intellectuals and human rights activists were arrested in the Bhima-Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, of whom Father Stan Swamy passed away awaiting bail a year ago. Activists Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj are presently out on bail. The rest remain incarcerated.
The order will not affect the proceedings of the trial at the special court by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The Commission has been appointed to find out the facts, the reason behind the riot and the role of the police officers. To that extent, the Commission has asked Shivaji Pawar to depose.