New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Thursday expressed concern over the Bhima-Koregaon incident and the ensuing violence across Maharashtra and appealed for the restoration of peace.
The discussion on the anti-Dalit violence was taken up as soon as the House met for the day and one leader of each party was given around one minute to express their thoughts.
On Wednesday, the opposition had demanded a discussion on the violence under Rule 267, that entails suspending all the listed business of the day, but was denied permission by Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu. The opposition then had disrupted proceedings in the upper House.
On Thursday, before allowing the discussion, Naidu told the MPs to be not provocative in their statements.
"Our approach should be to see that tempers are brought down and the situation is not escalated there (in Maharashtra). After all it is a social conflict," he said.
While the members from opposition parties including the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Trinamool Congress, DMK, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Nationalist Congress Party blamed communal forces and "Hindutva outfits" for the violence and demanded impartial probe and strict action against the culprits, the BJP and its ally Shiv Sena gave a clean chit to the state BJP-Sena government.
BSP member Veer Singh demanded a judicial probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge in the Bhima-Koregaon incident.
While giving a clean chit to "Hindutva elements" Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut blamed for the violence an "invisible hand" that "replicated the divide and rule policy of the British" in Koregaon.
NCP chief and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar, while criticising the communal forces, appealed for maintaining peace in the state.
"What has happened, has happened. Now peace should be restored and efforts should be made to restore peace," he said.
In the riots in Bhima-Koregaon in Pune during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Anglo-Maratha War of 1818 on January 1, more than 30 vehicles were torched or damaged and a young man was killed.
Hundreds of thousands of Dalits had assembled at the Vijay Stambh (victory pillar) erected by the British in Sanaswadi village when stone-pelting began, allegedly by some right-wing groups carrying saffron flags.
Over the next few days, the violence spread out to Mumbai and some other parts of the state.