The two-member commission headed by retired judge JN Patel is investigating the causes of violence in Koregaon Bhima neighborhood in Pune on January 1, 2018, in which one person died and several others were injured.
Speaking to the media after the violence, Pawar had raised suspicions about the role of Hindutva groups in the violence. Moreover, during his press conference held in February 2020, Pawar had made allegations against Ekbote and Bhide.
But when cross-examined by lawyer BG Bansode, representing a Dalit witness, Tukaram Gaware, Pawar said he did not know Bhide and Ekbote and had “only read about them through medias”.
When Bansode asked him another question regarding the duo, Pawar said, “I confine myself to the facts stated in my affidavit before the Board of Inquiry.”
In his supplemental affidavit filed with the panel last month, Pawar said he had “no knowledge or personal information about the sequence of events” that led to the violence.
Pawar had, in his first affidavit filed with the commission in October 2018, said he was “not in a position to specifically bring allegations against any particular organization” for causing the violence. He also said, “It is regrettable that the state government and law enforcement authorities have failed to protect the interests of the common man residing in Koregaon Bhima and around localities in Pune district. . The active role of right-wing forces behind the violence in Koregaon Bhima cannot be ruled out. However, concrete evidence can only be collected by state law enforcement.
Cross-examining Pawar on this statement, attorney Nitin Pradhan, representing Ekbote, asked the chief whether he had any personal knowledge of the Koregaon Bhima incident and whether his “information was only based on articles press and other sources and were hearsay”. . Pawar replied, “That’s correct”.
Under cross-examination by lawyer Kiran Channe, representing Dalit activist Ravindra Chandane, Pawar said: “By right wing I mean people who take advantage of fault lines (relating to religion and caste) in society (and who) spread hatred among different sections of society. The left is an ideology.
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Based on a complaint filed by Dalit political activist Anita Sawale, an offense was filed against Bhide and Ekbote for allegedly inciting violence from Koregaon Bhima. Pune Rural Police arrested Ekbote and also charged him in the case. But Bhide was never arrested and was struck off the indictment for “lack of evidence”.
No Comments on Prakash Ambedkar’s “bandh” call
When lawyer Ashish Satpute, who was recording Pawar’s examination-in-chief on behalf of the commission, asked the head of the NCP who should be held responsible for the loss of public and private property allegedly caused during the “bandh” called by Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar on January 3, 2018, Pawar said he did not want to comment on the matter as the matter was “sub judice”.