MUMBAI: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis Tuesday announced a judicial probe by sitting judge of Bombay High Court into Monday's Bhima Koregaon violence between Maratha and Dalit groups in Pune district, which resulted in the killing of one youth and injured several. A compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of the deceased was also announced by the CM.
“The CID will probe the killing of the youth, treating it as a murder. Besides the financial aid of Rs10 lakh to the family of the youth, compensation will be given for damages to vehicles of people who had gone to commemorate the bicentenary celebration,” Fadnavis said.
Rahul Phatangale (28), a resident of Sanaswadi village in Pune, died on Monday after suffering head injuries when a mob pelted stones. The altercation took place between two unidentified groups near a memorial of the 1818 war between the British and Peshwa forces in Bhima Koregaon.
Fadnavis squarely blamed left-wing extremist and some social organisations for making inflammatory, provocative statements in the build-up to the rioting that took place at Bhima Koregaon.
“Some left-wing extremist organisations and some social organisations had issued warnings. Hence we had deployed six police companies to control the situation. The government will investigate if there were deliberate attempts by some forces to trigger violence,” Fadnavis said.
Stressing that the government had taken adequate measures but the huge turnout at the Bhima Koregaon Battle Memorial put more stress on the administration, Fadnavis said, “At a place where normally not more than 15,000 people gather every year, around three lakh people had gathered yesterday.”
“Some vehicles were torched and stone were pelted. But, by and large, the police were able to control the situation and didn’t allow it to escalate. Moreover, when the trouble started police took quick action gathered people who had come from far off places, arranged buses for them and saw to it that they reach back safely to their respective places,” Fadnavis added.
The CM also warned that strict action would be taken against those who spread rumors and put up posts that would disturb communal harmony over the social media. He appealed political outfits and leaders to restrain themselves from issuing statements and disrupting “social harmony”.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media early in the morning NCP chief Sharad Pawar blamed the Maharashtra administration for lapses leading to violence on Monday.
“Why did the administration not take adequate precautions for this event which has been celebrated peacefully for 200 years? Due to its lapses, there was confusion and rumor-mongering, resulting in the violence,” said the NCP chief.
Pawar also blamed the Hindutva forces for the riots and also said that anti-social elements might take advantage of the situation to indulge in violence.
“This is highly condemnable. It is imperative for the political and social forces to deal with the situation calmly and without resorting to provocative statements that could worsen matters,” Pawar added.
BJP MP Amar Sabale, who hails from Pimpri Chinchwad near Pune, however, took objection to Pawar’s statement. “Just having saffron flags in hand doesn’t mean the people are from Hindutva fold. Some left-wing extremists are deliberately disturbing social harmony,” he said.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale blamed Maratha elements for the riots and said he had spoken to the chief minister in the morning and demand that this matter should be inquired. Action must be taken against the culprits so that such incidents don’t recur, he added.
On the other hand, Congress president Rahul Gandhi blamed the RSS. “A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance,” Rahul said in his tweet.