Bhima Koregaon inquiry commission to resume in January if Covid exits

The Bhima Koregaon inquiry commission may resume work in January after one year of being out of action with the three-month extension granted by the state government.

“January we will begin. We are waiting for a bigger physical space for the hearings to observe social distancing. The government is very much keen on the hearings to resume. There are around seven more people scheduled to record evidence,” said advocate Shishir Hire who is representing the state government at the commission.

“After the extension, we had written to the government. Our recommendation was that whenever Covid-19 subsides, we should resume. It has now subsided at a considerable level. However, we have to observe the conditions and if they remain favourable, we can resume by January,” said VV Palnitkar, secretary of the inquiry commission.

The two-member Bhima Koregaon inquiry commission headed by retired chief justice of Calcutta High court, Jay Narayan Patel includes former chief secretary and the present chief information officer of Maharashtra, Sumit Mullick as members.

The commission has six terms of reference including identifying causes of the January 1, 2018 riots that took place in Pune, identify responsible groups, determine whether police and administration were prepared enough, and recommend short and long term measures.

The commission which was formed in February 2018 works out of public information office at Madam Cama road, Mumbai and the Zilla Parishad building in Bundgarden, Pune.

The commission has asked for a bigger space for the hearings to be conducted and made suggestions. Among the few spaces suggested is Yashwantrao Chavan memorial auditorium or a visiting hall in Mantralay.

The seventh extension to the commission was granted in October and a report was expected to be submitted by December 31. However, the commission hearing did not resume in time for the report to be submitted by December 31.

The five names scheduled to appear before the commission when it resumes are Sharad Pawar, Nationalist Congress Party chief ; Saurabh Rao, former district collector and current division commissioner; Suvez Haque, former superintendent of Pune rural police; Ravindra Sengaonkar, IPS officer; and Rajendra Gaikwad, descendant of Govind Gopal Mahar whose tomb was allegedly desecrated at Vadhu Budruk.

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