Prakash Ambedkar walks out of Bhima Koregaon Commission probe

Alleging govt lawyers are diverting the probe, the VBA chief said the Commission is "helpless" without judicial powers

Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar (centre) holds the Maharashtra state government responsible for the Bhima Koregaon riots (photo: IANS)
Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar (centre) holds the Maharashtra state government responsible for the Bhima Koregaon riots (photo: IANS)
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Nadeem Inamdar

Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi chief Prakash Ambedkar on Monday, 13 February, walked out of the witness box of the Bhima Koregaon Commission, announcing that he quit the cross-examination.

He went on to allege that an attempt was being made by the government lawyers to divert the inquiry. 

Ambedkar said: “The Maharashtra state government is responsible for the Bhima Koregaon riots and, currently, an attempt is being undertaken by the government lawyers to divert the inquiry.”

The VBA supremo further said that he had furnished all the information sought by the Commission, but added that he was being "forced" to say certain things.

He added: “I had decided not to depose before the Commission but later did after receiving the Commission summons."

Accusing the Maharashtra state government of trying to side-step culpability, Ambedkar—who is the grandchild of B.R. Ambedkar, the 'father of the Indian Constitution'—continued: "The Bhima Koregaon riot was engineered by the police."

He implied that the Commission was mere eye-wash and not functionally effective. "When the Commission was not given judicial powers, I decided not to appear; but later went to the hearings as a common citizen. The commission is helpless and has no powers.” he said.

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, then in his capacity as chief minister, had ordered a judicial commission to be set up to probe the Bhima Koregaon violence, where deadly clashes broke out between Dalit and right-wing activists.

The Koregaon area, 40 kilometres from Pune, had been the site of a commemorative event marking the 1818 battle between the Peshwa army and the Mahar regiment-backed British army. Large-scale violence had erupted in Bhima Koregaon and its adjoining areas when Dalit groups were attacked on 1 January while attending the bicentennial function.

The state government then appointed a two-member judicial commission, headed by a former chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice Jai Narayan Patel, and the state chief secretary, Sumit Mullick. The two-member committee visited the Vijay Stambh memorial, Vadhu Budruk village and some other places in its official capacity.

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