Mumbai: BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday alleged that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was trying to implicate "Hindutvawadis" (Hindutva supporters) in the Koregaon Bhima violence case despite the absence of any concrete evidence.
Fadnavis made the allegation while talking to reporters a day before the Budget session of the Maharashtra legislature commences.
"During my tenure, the state home department had carried out a thorough probe into the Koregaon Bhima violence case," the former chief minister, who also held the home portfolio then, said.
"NCP chief Sharad Pawar's first reaction on the violence was that Hindutvawadis were behind it. But police did not find any evidence to back up his claims," he said.
"The entire investigation and its progress has not been objected either by the Bombay High Court or by the Supreme Court. Still by setting up a separate SIT, Pawar wants to implicate Hindutvawadis in the Koregaon Bhima violence incident," Fadnavis said.
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.
Right wing leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide are accused in Koregaon Bhima case.
The Pune Police have arrested Left-leaning activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao in the Elgar Parishad case for their alleged Maoist links.
Pawar had earlier termed the arrest of activists in the Elgar Parishad case as "wrong" and "vengeful", and demanded that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) be set up to probe the action taken by the Pune police.
Replying to a query over it, Fadnavis said, "The Maharashtra police have found a strong evidence that urban Naxal issue is not restricted to Maharashtra alone. It has spread in other parts of the country as well. Hence, handing over its probe to the NIA is a welcome move of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray."
The Centre had last month transferred the probe into the Elgar Parishad case from the Pune Police to the NIA, a move then criticised by the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress.
However, the state government had later changed its stand and said that it had no objection to the central agency taking over the probe.
Meanwhile, Fadnavis welcomed the the Maharashtra government's stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
"NPR is a part of the central act and no one can say that its certain questions will be omitted in the state. The most important fact is that joint parliamentary committee has cleared it, hence Congress can no longer stay away from it," he said.
His statement comes two days after Uddhav Thackeray met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and some other leaders in Delhi.
After meeting Modi, Thackeray had told reporters that no one needs to have fears about the CAA as it is not meant for throwing anyone out of the country. He had also said that the Centre has already made its stand clear in Parliament that NRC will not be implemented across the country.
"An atmosphere is being created about NRC that it is going to be dangerous for Muslims," Thackeray had said. He had also said that NPR is not meant to drive anybody out of the country.
However, the Congress and the NCP, along with some other opposition parties, have been critical of the CAA-NPR-NRC, and the matter has created discord among the Maharashtra alliance partners.