Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Monday asked his party’s Ministers to ensure that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up in the Elgar Parishad and Bhima Koregaon cases.
After the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case from the Maharashtra police, the NCP Ministers must ensure that a parallel probe was instituted at any cost, Mr. Pawar told his party colleagues while reading out Section 10 of the NIA Act which permitted the State government to set up a parallel probe. Mr. Pawar chaired a meeting of NCP Ministers at the Y.B. Chavan Centre, south Mumbai.
“The moment he read out the Act, we took the cue and spoke amongst ourselves on how to set up the SIT. The party believes, whatever may be the Shiv Sena’s opinion on this, the cases are completely fabricated,” said a NCP Minister.
After the meeting, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the government would set up a SIT once the legal opinion from the Advocate General was received. “Once we have the A-G’s opinion, we will once again speak to the Chief Minister and get approval for this SIT. We are committed to setting up the SIT and most of our leaders agree this should be done,” he said. Two other NCP Ministers, including Minority Minister Nawab Malik and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, advocated the need for an SIT. “The NIA Section 10 allows the State to institute this SIT, there is no question of withholding such a move from taking place,” said Mr Malik after the meeting.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is divided over the move to further probe the Bhima Koregaon cases. While the NCP believes the party’s priority is to dig deeper into the issue, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena are not keen on perusing the matter further. The Maharashtra Law and Judiciary Department has already given its opinion on setting up a parallel probe as such a move would be difficult from a legal point of view. “But this has now become a matter of prestige for honourable Pawar saheb [Mr. Sharad Pawar] and he will ensure the probe is instituted,” said another senior NCP Minister.
Earlier, reports of rift in the MVA government had emerged after Mr. Thackeray last week announced he did not have any issue in handing over the probe papers to the NIA. Mr. Pawar later said it was not right on the part of the Centre to take over the probe via NIA and for the Maharashtra government to agree to hand over documents to the NIA.