File photo | Visitors at the 201st anniversary of Victory Pillar at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune | Photo: PTI
File photo | Visitors at the 201st anniversary of Victory Pillar at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune | Photo: PTI
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New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) that took over the probe in the 2018 Bhima-Koregaon violence case will first aim to arrest the accused who have been named in two FIRs but not yet been held, a source in the agency told ThePrint.

In one FIR, filed by Pune resident Tushar Damgude on 7 January 2018, six accused are named — poet Sudhir Dhawale, Harshali Potdar, both members of Republican Panthers (RP), Sagar Gorkhe, Deepak Dhengle, Ramesh Gaichor and his wife Jyoti Jagtap, all artists of Kabir Kala Manch in Pune, for inciting violence.

However, only two — Dhawale and Potdar — have been arrested.

The second FIR names Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote — Brahmin Hindutva leaders who were accused of stirring up anti-Dalit sentiments in the region in the last two weeks of December 2017.

While Ekbote was arrested briefly in 2018 and released on bail, Bhide hasn’t been arrested at all.

The Mumbai branch of the NIA has been directed to take up the investigation in the case, a source in the agency said.

“We will now take over the probe to arrest the accused who have been named in the FIRs but not yet arrested. They are either absconding or just not arrested,” an NIA officer said.

“Firstly, a detailed inquiry into their involvement will be carried out as there are more than 100 people who are said to be involved in the case, following which more arrests will be made.”

Maharashtra leaders last week had hit out at the central government for “arbitrarily” handing over the case to the NIA without the state administration’s consent.

Usually, for the NIA to take over a case from a state, a formal communication is sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs by the state concerned, requesting for a transfer of the case to the agency. Following this, a notification is issued and the investigation formally transferred. The state police then formally hands over all files related to the case to the NIA.

But in this case, Section 6(5) of the NIA Act was invoked that permits the central government to direct the agency (NIA), suo motu, to investigate any offence if it feels that a crime is a scheduled offence fit to be probed by the NIA. The NIA, thus, can take over a probe from the local police, after any number of days.


Also read: Nothing illegal about NIA taking over Bhima Koregaon case but state police still holds key


Move may stall probe

The probe into the Bhima-Koregaon case is likely to face a delay as the Pune police is unwilling to share its files with the NIA.

Under the NIA Act, however, the local police will have to transfer all case files and evidence to the NIA.

According to the NIA Act, when an order under Section 6(4) or 6(5) is passed, Section 6(6) bars the state government and its police officers from proceeding with the investigation and directs them to send the relevant documents and records to the agency.

So, in this case, despite the reluctance of the state police, they will have to do it under law, else it will be considered a violation.

“The state can choose to cooperate or make it difficult but, according to the law, they will have to transfer all the case files, evidence to the NIA,” the NIA officer said.

According to officer, the Mumbai Branch will soon set up a team to look into the case.

“The order has been formally given to us only now. We will formally take over the case, go through all evidence and files and then head with making arrests,” the officer said.


Also read: Historians’ silence on Bhima Koregaon allowed BJP to brand it as ‘urban Naxalism’


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Major fact check needed for the story.
    The case in which Bhide and Ekbode were booked, has not been taken over by the NIA. That case is being probed by the Pune Rural Police and does not include charges under the UAPA.
    The NIA is taking over just one case from the Pune City Police, which is about alleged Maoist link to Elgaar Parishad case.
    Also there is one more case against Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani, again with the Pune City Police, which was not pursued at all.
    Please Please Check the facts.

    • While it is true that the NIA is just taking over the Bhima-Koregaon case, the one being probed by the Pune police, sources in the agency have said that they will look into the involvement of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbode as well. The story has mentioned that initial enquiries will be carried out by a team of Mumbai Branch and all aspects of the case, including FIRs registered elsewhere, will be looked into.

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