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This article was first published 1 year ago  » News » The Strange Answers Of Shivaji Pawar

The Strange Answers Of Shivaji Pawar

March 07, 2023 09:39 IST
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For four days, the officer avoided giving any straight answers, becoming the first witness in the 48 witnesses that have appeared so far, to have achieved this feat.

IMAGE: People gather to pay tributes at the Jay Stambh on the anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune. Photograph: ANI Photo

For four days last week, Deputy Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, the investigating officer in charge of the Elgar Parishad case till it was taken over by the National Investigation Agency, was cross-examined before the Bhima Koregaon Commission.

The cross examination was by advocate Barun Kumar, representing Harshali Potdar, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case and a witness before the Commission, and senior advocate B G Bansode, representing Dalit victims.

For four days, the officer avoided giving any straight answers, becoming the first witness in the 48 witnesses that have appeared so far, to have achieved this feat.



The Elgar Parishad case refers to the case filed against 16 intellectuals by the Pune police in 2018 under the anti-terrorist law UAPA. They are accused of having organised the public meeting that was held in Pune on December 31, 2017, called the Elgar Parishad.

The Parishad was organised by two retired judges P B Sawant and B G Kolse Patil, along with a large number of progressive and Dalit groups, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon which took place on January 1, 1818. The British defeated the Peshwas in this battle, helped by Mahar soldiers.

The day after the Elgar Parishad, on January 1, 2018, Dalits were attacked while on their way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of this battle.

The Elgar Parishad case against the intellectuals, filed on the basis of a complaint by one Tushar Damgude on January 8, says that the speeches made at the Parishad resulted in this violence, and that the Parishad was organised as part of a Maoist conspiracy to 'incite people and create violence and to spread disaffection towards the government established by law...(and) provoke in the name of caste...'

IMAGE: Shivaji Pawar, right, with advocate Shishir Hiray, representing the State. Photograph: Jyoti Punwani


So far, Dalit victims and eye-witnesses of the violence have told the Bhima Koregaon Commission of Inquiry that they were attacked by mobs holding saffron flags. None of them has mentioned the Elgar Parishad.

In fact, the very first FIR filed after the violence blames two leaders, Sambhaji Bhide of the Shiv Pratisthan and Milind Ekbote of the Samasth Hindu Aghadi, for the violence. Ekbote was later arrested.

Pawar, however, said he was neither aware of this complaint nor concerned with it.

In his affidavit, he has not mentioned anything about the incidents of violence that occurred on January 1, 2018.

36 FIRs had been filed in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence, pointed out Advocate Barun Kumar to Pawar. None of them linked it to the Elgar Parishad. Wasn't it his duty to have examined those FIRs before coming to any conclusion about the violence?

Pawar's answer: "It is not correct."

Refusing to explain why it was not correct, Pawar stated:

"All the details regarding investigation has been mentioned in the case diary and charge-sheet filed by me in Cr. No. 04 of 2018 registered at Vishrambaugh Police Station." (CR No 04/2018 was the complaint blaming the Elgar Parishad for the violence.)

Had Pawar taken the statement of anyone who was an eye-witness to both the Elgar Parishad as well as to the Bhima Koregaon violence?

When asked this by advocate Barun Kumar, Pawar said he had done so. But, he refused to name any such witness because he said, doing so "would prove fatal to the prosecution" (in the Elgar Parishad case), and also endanger those witnesses.

IMAGE: Shivaji Pawar after exiting the Bhima Koregaon Commission hearing. Photograph: Jyoti Punwani


Some of Pawar's replies were so convoluted, it was difficult to make sense of them.

The officer was shown the counter-affidavit filed by Sub Divisional Police Officer Ganesh More opposing Milind Ekbote's anticipatory bail application in the Supreme Court. There, More had described Ekbote as the 'key conspirator' of the Bhima Koregaon violence. On the other hand, Pawar had linked the Elgar Parishad to the violence, pointed out advocate Kumar.

Replied Pawar: "In my investigation ...I have not linked Elgar Parishad to the violence which occurred on 1st January 2018... but it has been revealed from the evidence which has been gathered during the investigation."

Pawar even doubted the veracity of an intelligence report shown to him by Advocate Kumar. It had been received by Commissioner, State Intelligence Department, Mumbai on December 19, 2017. The report said about 100-125 organisations were planning to hold the Elgar Parishad, and further said that the Parishad was likely to be opposed by the 'Sangh, BJP and their casteist, fascist affiliates such as the ABVP, BJP, Samasth Hindu Aghadi, Patit Pawan Sanghatan...'

"I do not know whether these are intelligence reports or not," replied Pawar.

If indeed inflammatory speeches had been made at the Elgar Parishad, how come the Pune police had not taken note of them suo moto, asked senior advocate B G Bansode, representing Dalit victims.

Pawar evaded answering this question. He had been summoned by the Commission with regard to the investigation of Cr No 04/2018, he stated, and "didn't have the authority to comment on the Pune police."

At this stage, Justice J N Patel heading the Commission intervened. "This question is put to the witness as a police officer of the rank of deputy commissioner of police and not as a spokesperson of the Pune police, said Justice Patel, directing Pawar to answer the question.

Forced to reply, Pawar said: "If any cognisable offence is committed before the police, then they may take suo moto cognisance."

The offences that the accused in the Elgar Parishad case are charged with are all cognisable offences.

Pawar's cross examination will continue when the Commission next convenes.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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