Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and MLA Dhananjay Munde has sought withdrawal of cases related to Koregaon-Bhima violence in Pune, a demand that comes days after Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced dropping of cases against Nanar refinery and Aarey Metro carshed protesters.
Munde, whose party is a key ally in the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, has made the demand in a letter written to Thackeray on Monday. Violence had erupted at Koregaon-Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018, a day after alleged inflammatory speeches were made at a conclave, Elgar Parishad, organised to commemorate 200 years of a famous battle between the Peshwas and the East India Company.
A subsequent bandh called by Dalit outfits to protest the violence as well as what they claimed was police high-handedness also saw incidents of vandalism and damage to public property, leading to more people being booked.
In his letter to Thackeray, Munde claimed the previous Devendra Fadnavis government had slapped “false” cases against those named in the Koregaon-Bhima episode, including social activists.
Munde said the BJP-led government had “harassed” intellectuals, activists, social workers and ordinary citizens who had raised their voice against injustice, and had labelled several of them as “urban Naxals.”
“I request you to withdraw the cases,” Munde said in his letter to Thackeray. Asked about the demand to withdraw criminal cases related to the Koregaon-Bhima violence, Thackeray said, “The earlier government has already issued orders to withdraw the cases against persons facing minor criminal charges related to the Koregaon-Bhima caste riot. I am finding out how many cases have been actually withdrawn.”
Incidentally, some of the activists arrested by the Pune police in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case have been accused of having links with Naxal outfits, including the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
These Left-wing activists have been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Last week, Thackeray had announced that cases filed by the police against protesters who opposed the Nanar refinery project in the coastal Ratnagiri district and Aarey Colony Metro carshed in Mumbai would be withdrawn.
(With inputs from agencies)