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Bhima Koregaon Commission Says It Cannot Function Without Funds

Pune: The commission conducting inquiry into the 2018 Koregaon Bhima violence on Friday asked the Maharashtra government to wind it up, saying it can not function due to “want of money” and the government did not seem to be “serious” about it.

The commission, comprising former chief justice of Kolkata High Court Justice JN Patel and former IAS officer Sumeet Mullick, was set up to probe the caste violence near Koregaon Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018.

In a letter to the state Chief Secretary, additional Chief Secretary and principal secretary of the Home Department, the commission said the government had not paid salaries of its staff and reimbursed their bills for months.

“…after exhausting initial budget of about Rs 52 lakh which was hardly adequate, the government either committed delay in sanction of supplementary budget or sanctioned less amount than was required,” read the letter.

“…some of the officials of the commission have not received their salaries since November 2019. Salaries and honorarium of all including the chairman are due from December 2019 onward,” it stated.

“Most of the staff members are hired on a contract basis. They would starve for want of money,” the letter said. A home department official, summoned by the commission, stated that funds would be provided only after the budget session, it said.

“The circumstances indicate that the government is not serious about the commission. The commission is unable to function for want of money even for day-to-day expenses,” it added.

Violence broke out near the Koregaon Bhima memorial during the bicentennial celebration of an 1818 battle where the East India Company’s forces, which included sepoys of Mahar caste, a Dalit community, defeated the army of the Brahmin Peshwa ruler of Pune.

Dalits commemorate the victory as a symbol of defeat of the old Brahmanical order. Pune Police had claimed that inflammatory statements made a day earlier at Elgar Parishad conclave, allegedly backed by Maoists, led to the violence.

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Source: News18