An offence of robbery and caste atrocity has been registered against Trupti Desai, head of the Bhumata Brigade and the activist who had led an agitation demanding entry for women in the core shrine of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district last year. Desai has claimed that the complaint is false and it could be “a conspiracy” against her. Vijay Annasaheb Makasare (33), a Dalit ‘social activist’ from Ahmednagar, has lodged the first information report (FIR) in the case at the Hinjewadi police station. Police have booked Desai, her husband Prashant Desai and four others — including Satish Desai, Kantilal alias Anna Gaware and two unidentified persons – under sections 341, 323, 394, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
In his complaint, Makasare has alleged that the incident took place on June 27, when he was on his way towards Mumbai via Balewadi with Desai in a car. Prashant, Satish, Kantilal and two others were in another car which allegedly intercepted Makasare’s vehicle near Balewadi stadium around 11.30 am. Makasare claimed that Desai snatched two cell phones from him and handed them over to her husband Prashant, saying the phones carried “evidence” against them. Then she allegedly asked Prashant and others to beat up Makasare.As per the complaint, the accused beat up Makasare with an iron rod and wooden stick. They allegedly robbed him of valuables, including a gold chain worth Rs 15,000, Rs 27,000 in cash and two goggles. Makasare has alleged that Desai asked him to remain silent about the incident and threatened to get a false case lodged against him by women activists.
Desai then allegedly made offensive caste-based comments, claimed Makasare in the complaint. Speaking to The Indian Express, Makasare said, “I have been in contact with Trupti Desai for the last one year. I got a letter on May 24 this year, appointing me as state vice-president of Bhumata Brigade, but it did not carry the registration number of the organisation. When I asked about it, I was told that the Bhumata Brigade is not a registered outfit. I raised objections about the way the Brigade was functioning. So, Trupti Desai made false allegations in Ahmednagar… that I am involved in cases of harassment of women and extortion…..On June 26, Trupti Desai called me and asked me to accompany her to Mantralaya in Mumbai for some personal work. I agreed because I have never had any personal differences with her.”
“I never thought I will be attacked in such a manner. After the attack, I was injured and in severe pain. I was terrified and I rushed back to Ahmednagar without lodging a police complaint. When the pain persisted, I got admitted to a civil hospital and shifted to a private hospital for treatment on July 1. I gave a statement to the Ahmednagar police while undergoing treatment. Later, an FIR was registered with the Pune city police. I stand by my complaint,” he said.
However, Desai told The Indian Express that Makasare’s complaint was “false”. “No such incident has ever taken place. When I got to know that such a complaint has been lodged against me, I contacted the police… I know Makasare, he wanted a post in our organisation. I was against it as I found that he was not genuine and was misusing the name of Bhumata Brigade. It could be the reason why he has lodged a false complaint against me. The false complaint could also be a conspiracy… there should be an investigation to find out who is behind this false complaint. We would be taking legal action against Makasare,” she said.
Makasare, a resident of Shrirampur in Ahmednagar, lodged the FIR at Chaturshringi police station on Wednesday night. As the alleged incident took place in the jurisdiction of Hinjewadi police station, the case was transferred to it on Thursday morning. No arrests had been made in the case till reports last came in. Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone III) Ganesh Shinde said, “We are investigating the case and further action will be based on the outcome of the probe.”