Pune: Terming the arrest of activists in the Elgar Parishad case "wrong" and "vengeful", Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be set up under a retired judge to probe the action taken by Pune police.
Pawar also demanded that the police officers involved with the arrests be suspended.
"It is wrong to imprison the activists on the charge of sedition. Voicing extreme views is allowed in democracy. The action of Pune police is wrong and vengeful. It is a misuse of power by the police commissioner and some of the officers. They had attacked the basic freedom of people and one cannot be a mute spectator to all this," Pawar said.
"We will demand the chief minister that an SIT headed by a retired judge be instituted to probe the police action," he said. "Facts should be verified. The role of the previous government and the investigation team was doubtful. The police officers concerned should be suspended and their action should be probed."
According to Pune police, the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, was supported by Maoists and inflammatory speeches made at the event led to caste violence at Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.
The Left-leaning activists arrested during the probe had links with Maoists, police claimed, booking them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Pune police had arrested nine activists — Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao — in connection with the case.
Asked about the roles of pro-Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote in the Koregaon-Bhima case, Pawar said, "The previous government was biased and they favoured some people during its rule."
He also sought a probe by an expert committee into the Comptroller and Auditor General report tabled on Friday in the state assembly, which faulted the Maharashtra government over non-submission of utilisation certificates worth Rs 66,000 crore till March 31, 2018.
"The committee should probe it and bring the truth before the people," he said.
The CAG report has stated that the non-submission of UCs ran the risk of misappropriation of funds as well as fraud.