Mumbai: In a move that exposes cracks in the ruling MVA in Maharashtra, the NCP on Monday said party leader and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh will work out modalities for a parallel probe through an SIT into the Elgar Parishad case which is already being handled by the NIA.
Last week, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government had given its nod to handover the investigation into the Elgar Parishad case to the NIA, a move criticised by the NCP, the second largest constituent in the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition.
In this backdrop, NCP president Sharad Pawar, who has openly expressed his displeasure over Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's decision to allow the central agency to probe the case, presided over a meeting of party ministers on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, NCP chief spokesperson and state minister Nawab Malik said, "The meeting of NCP's Cabinet ministers decided that Home Minister Anil Deshmukh will examine all the required procedures and set up an SIT for the Elgar Parishad issue."
Malik justified the decision for a separate probe in the sensitive case, a move that is likely to trigger a political row.
"Legally, any state government can set up a parallel investigating team for a single incident. According to Article 10 of the NIA Act, a separate committee can be set up (to conduct a parallel probe)," the NCP minister said.
Besides the NCP, the Congress is also a part of the Shiv Sena-led government in the state. On Sunday, Pawar alleged the Centre has handed over probe in the Elgar Parishad case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as the previous Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra wants to "hide something".
Pawar had earlier demanded constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case in which human rights activists have been arrested for alleged links with Maoists.
He had said the Centre should have taken the Maharashtra government into confidence before handing over the case to NIA.
The Centre handed over the case o the NIA in late January. The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in the district the next day.
The Pune Police have claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. During the probe, the Pune police arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for alleged Maoist links.
They have been booked under relevant sections of the IPC and anti-terror law UAPA. The Pune court hearing the Elgar Parishad case has transferred it to the special NIA court in Mumbai.