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Elgar Parishad: Another Activist Refuses to Depose Before Probe Panel

Sudhir Dhawale said he did not have "faith and confidence" in the inquiry commission, after Surendra Gadling also refused to do so.
Elgar Parishad

Pune: Sudhir Dhawale, an activist with alleged Maoist links, on Saturday became the second accused in the Pune Elgar Parishad case after Surendra Gadling to refuse to depose before the inquiry commission probing the 2018 Koregaon Bhima caste violence.

Dhawale stated he did not have "faith and confidence" in the commission.

Gadling had on Friday told the inquiry commission, headed by Justice Jai Narayan Patel (retired), that he did not want to depose as doing so would prejudice his case before the trial court.

In his affidavit, Dhawale had expressed his willingness to depose "in order to bring certain facts about the case and the incident to light".

Accepting Dhawale's plea, who was produced before the panel in police cover, Justice Patel (retired) ordered that he be sent back to judicial custody.

"Dhawale informed that he has no faith and confidence in the commission as he has objection for Sumit Mullick, the former chief secretary of the state, who is part of the commission as its learned member," the commission said in its order.

Dhawale had already filed an application before the commission requesting recusal of Mullick.

"In view of the fact that Dhawale has refused to give evidence on oath before the commission as he has no faith and confidence in it, however, he is ready to give a statement, the commission does not want to record his statement (sic)," reads the order of the commission.

In his application seeking Mullick's recusal, Dhawale said, "even dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar had pointed out the fact earlier that when the violence took place in Koregaon Bhima, Mullick was state government's chief secretary and police administration did not provide any kind of protection to Dalits from the attacks during the commemoration of the 200 years of Koregaon-Bhima battle".

Ten activists, including Gadling and Dhawale, were arrested in 2018 as part of the probe into the caste violence around Koregaon Bhima in Pune district on New Year's Day to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Koregaon-Bhima battle between the Peshwas and the British Army. They were accused of masterminding the violence and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

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