The Maharashtra government was trying to go to the root of the 2017 Elgaar Parishad case when it was suddenly handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) by the Centre, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Sunday. He also sought to remind the Centre about the federal structure of governance when asked about the development.
"I feel that the Centre and state governments should do their respective works. The Centre can intervene when an issue of the national level crops up," Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of Rs 10 'Shiv Bhojan Thali'--a flagship scheme of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government.
Pune Police are probing whether "provocative" speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, led to the caste violence around Koregaon Bhima in the district the next day.
Police had first used the term 'urban naxals' during the investigation after arresting nine activists and lawyers, including Telugu poet Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj.
"I recently met state home minister Anil Deshmukh and his deputy Satej Patil. We were briefed about the case by investigating officials. I felt they were trying hard to probe the case," Pawar said while responding to a query on the NIA taking over the probe.
"In the event of any untoward incident, the basic objective is to investigate that incident, go to its root, check facts and avoid any communal rift. The state government was intending to investigate the case on that line, but suddenly the Central government decided to take over the case," he said.
He said NCP chief Sharad Pawar had already clarified his stand on the issue. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had earlier claimed that the
violence was the result of a conspiracy hatched by the then BJP-led government with the help of police, and sought an SIT probe.
"Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has also made his views clear about this case," he said. Deshmukh had criticised the Central move and said the state government was exploring legal options.
Meanwhile, speaking on the 'Shiv Bhojan Thali' scheme, the deputy chief minister said that those who can afford to pay in hotels should not avail the scheme, which is meant for the poor.
He said the scheme was a part of the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the ruling Sena, NCP and Congress. "Any shortcoming in the scheme will be taken care of after review," he said.
Meanwhile, senior NCP leader and Lok Sabha MP Sunil Tatkare has said in Shirdi that the Centre should have consulted the Maharashtra government before transferring the case to the NIA.
"NCP chief Sharad Pawar had already expressed his thoughts (on the case) through his letter (to the chief minister) and the state government had decided to probe the case further when the Centre intervened and handed over the probe to NIA," Tatkare told reporters.
"Ours is a federal Constitution and responsibilities of the state and Centre are clearly defined. The Centre should have consulted the state government before transferring the case to NIA," he added.
He refused to comment on a query about singer-composer Adnan Sami being conferred with the Padma Shri award by the Centre on Saturday.
Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, had on Saturday, raised objection claiming Sami, a former Pakistan national who got Indian citizenship on December 1, 2016, was "not an original Indian citizen".