Urges judicial commission to summon chief minister, intelligence heads for cross examination
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh president Prakash Ambedkar on Tuesday urged the judicial commission probing into the Bhima Koregaon riots to summon chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the heads of Maharashtra intelligence, state minister for home (rural) Deepak Kesarkar and state minister home (urban) Ranjit Patil for cross examination. Earlier,Chief minister Fadnavis had himself said that the Bhima Koregaon riots had not erupted over intelligence failure.
Referring to his application seeking Fadnavis’s examination in the judicial commission hearing, Ambedkar said the chief minister was attending a programme in Ahmednagar’s Karjat taluka, barely 40 km from Bhima Koregaon on January 1, the day the riots broke..
“ I myself contacted the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) regarding the rioting that took place but to no avail,” he submitted before the two-member commission comprising justice (retd ) JN Patel and former chief secretary Sumit Mullick.
Ambedkar said there is a need to find out whether the police officers who had information about the incident informed the chief minister about the emerging situation. “Whether the on-ground information was passed to the higher authorities needs to be examined and brought on record. Bhima Koregaon riots have taken place due to intelligence failure,” Ambedkar said.
He pointed out that the gram sevak of Vadhu Budruk had informed in writing that the five grampanchayats of the surrounding areas had declared a bandh on account of January 1. This information does not match with the information given by the police and there is a need to cross examine the then police inspector of Shikrapur police station, Ambedkar said.
“This revelation has come out for the first time in the public discourse and I will submit the necessary documents before the commission. It is not the duty of the public servant to give a bandh call and he as gram sevak has communicated the decision of gram panchayat to the government,“ he said.
Ambedkar added that the commission must take into account and record the incidents which happened from December 26 to December 31, 2017, preceding the riots.
He said that the rural police intelligence wing had information regarding a particular telephone number from one district which was operational from December 28 to January 1 and this needed to be brought on the record. He alleged that conflicting information was coming from Pune rural and Pune city police on the riots.
He rejected the allegations that the banned CPI ( Maoist ) had funded the Elgar Parishad held at Shaniwarwada and said, “A retired Supreme Court judge cannot accept funds from a banned organisation. His reputation and integrity is on par and he is a very respected nationalist legal luminary. The allegations being made against him are false and frivolous in nature,” he said.
Ambedkar, who donned the lawyer’s coat, said the government version in terms of affidavits being submitted was changing from time to time and this must be explained by the government, He also submitted a list demanding access to public documents related to the police, case diary, recorded voice conversations, Daund WhatsApp group and other police investigations.
Bhima Koregaon Judicial Commission lawyer Ashish Satpute in his reply said that according to the law the privileged documents cannot be produced before the commission. The counsel cited various case laws related to non-sharing of secret, privileged, confidential and unpublished documents of the state citing state secrecy.
Justice Patel said that the commission can call for all and any type of document as it wants facts to come out. He assured that the confidential documents won’t be made public” and that the objective is only to know the truth.
‘Forced to withdraw case under police pressure’
BG Bansode, lawyer for the victims, alleged before the judicial commission that the Dalits who had filed the atrocity case against the villagers of Vadhu Budruk for desecrating the samadhi of Govind Gopal Mahar were forced to withdraw the case under pressure from Pune rural police.
Advocate Nihal Singh Rathod who appeared for Ramesh Gaichor, a Kabir Kala Manch member, stated that the state was terrified and unwilling to get its top officers examined before the commission. Advocate Dhairyasheel Patil moved an application seeking examination of arrested Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale before the commission.
Lock-up bad for health: Gadling
Advocate Surendra Gadling, lodged in the Yerawada central jail, complained to Uapa Judge K D Vadane on Tuesday about the filthy conditions of the lock-up in the court premises.
Gadling said that he spent three hours in the lock up which reeked of a foul smel and was littered with human refuse and spit. “It’s bad for the health of inmates,” he complained.
Justice Vadane will hear Gadling’s bail application on November 16. The court will also hear the bail applications of Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut and Sudhir Dhawale on November 16. The court also restricted Advocate Nihal Singh Rathod from addressing the court directing him to file a vakalatnama. Accordingly, Gadling moved an application seeking assistance of Adv Rathod before the court which was agreed to by the judge.
Gadling along with other four persons were arrested by the Pune Police on June 8 for alleged “Maoist link