IPS officer appears before Koregaon Bhima panel, seeks time to file affidavit

The two-member commission headed by retired Justice J N Patel is probing the causes of the Koregaon Bhima violence of January 1, 2018, in which one person died and several were injured.

Former Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla on Thursday appeared before the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry in Mumbai and sought time to file her affidavit, claiming that she is yet to receive certain documents from Pune City Police.

The two-member commission headed by retired Justice J N Patel is probing the causes of the Koregaon Bhima violence of January 1, 2018, in which one person had died and several others were injured.

Shukla was the  Pune police commissioner when the violence took place. She is currently posted in Hyderabad as the Additional Director General of CRPF (South Zone).

Elgaar Parishad, a conclave, was held in the jurisdiction of the Pune City Police on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle.  Pune City Police has claimed that Elgaar Parishad was organised by the banned CPI-Maoist, and the speeches delivered at the conclave and previous campaigns for the event were among the factors that caused the violence.

On October 22, the commission’s lawyer, Aashish Satpute, had filed an application — seeking that IPS officers Rashmi Shukla and Param Bir Singh be called as witnesses — as it was necessary to bring forward intelligence inputs and all information received by the two officers. The commission had then issued summons asking the two officers to appear before it as witnesses.

Accordingly, Shukla appeared before the commission on Thursday. She told the commission that she has sought a list of documents, which she needs to study. Shukla said she has received the requisite documents from Pune Rural Police, but is yet to get the documents from Pune City Police.

Lawyer Shishir Hiray, representing the state, told the commission that they would be getting the documents from Pune Police on Friday. Hiray said that he will submit Shukla’s affidavit before the next hearing.

The commission is likely to call Shukla during the next set of hearings, starting from December 13.

The commission has also summoned retired IPS officer Bipin Bihari, who was the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) at the time of Koregaon Bhima violence.

Both Shukla and Singh are currently embroiled in different controversies. The Bombay High Court is hearing a plea filed by Shukla, the former Commissioner of the State Intelligence Department (SID), against an “illegal” phone tapping case registered by the Mumbai Police. The alleged tapping had taken place when Shukla headed the SID.

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had cited a letter, purportedly written by Shukla, to the then DGP about alleged corruption in transfer of police officers. The letter had also mentioned details of intercepted calls, with the Shiv Sena-led ruling coalition alleging Shukla tapped phones without permission.

Shukla’s plea challenged the FIR lodged in March under the Official Secrets Act, 1923 at BKC cyber police station against unidentified persons for allegedly tapping phones and leaking confidential documents following a complaint by the SID.

Meanwhile, advocate Niteen Pradhan continued cross examination of Elgaar Parishad organiser Harshali Potdar on Thursday.

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