The Bhima-Koregaon Inquiry Commission has suspended all its scheduled hearings as the Maharashtra government did not provide it an accommodation to conduct the inquiry into the case. The decision was taken as the Government didn't respond to the request put up by the inquiry panel to provide them the accommodation.

The Commission wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary to provide suitable accommodation at the earliest. As per the Commission, the existing place is too small and Covid protocol could not be maintained, hence an accommodation was sought in Mumbai.

The two-member commission headed by Justice JN Patel (retd) was constituted to inquire into the incidents of violence near the Koregaon Bhima memorial in Pune in Maharashtra on January 1, 2018, during the bicentennial celebration of the 1818 battle. It was alleged that Maoist elements were behind the infamous episode.

The Commission has told the state government that it is suspending all scheduled hearings till the government provides a "suitable accommodation" in Mumbai to conduct the probe into the case.

As per the Commission's lawyer Ashish Satpute, the panel is currently operating from the premises of the State Information Commission's Office in Mumbai, and since the place is small, it is difficult to follow the COVID-19 norms.

In a letter dated October 31 addressed to the state Chief Secretary and other government officials, the Commission's secretary, VV Palnitkar, said that the commission has been requesting the government to provide suitable accommodation in Mumbai at the earliest. The commission had informed the government about the proposed hearing scheduled from November 8 to 12, 2021, the letter said.

"In the meeting dated October 28, Chairman of the commission, Justice J N Patel, advised Principal Secretary, Home, to take up the issue directly with the Chief Minister's Office and to get a suitable accommodation on an emergent basis. It was also made clear that if suitable accommodation is not provided by October 29, 2021, the Commission would suspend its hearing schedules," the letter said.

As per the letter, the Commission did not hear anything from the government till October 31, 2021 about the availability of suitable accommodation.

Therefore, there is no other option before the Commission but to suspend the hearing schedule till the government provides suitable accommodation to it, the letter said.

"Accordingly, the Commission hereby suspends all future hearings till the government provides a suitable accommodation in Mumbai," it said.

The probe panel had resumed hearing in the case in August this year after a gap of nearly 14 months in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions imposed in the state.

Violence had erupted near the Koregaon Bhima memorial on January 1, 2018, during the bicentennial celebration of the 1818 battle wherein the East India Company's forces defeated the army of the Peshwa ruler of Pune.

The Pune police had claimed that the inflammatory statements made a day earlier at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, allegedly backed by Maoists, led to the violence. The commission had been given multiple extensions by the state government to submit its report.

With PTI inputs