A Pune court on Wednesday remanded Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) chief Dhananjay Desai in one-day police custody.
The police had sought custody of Desai to investigate his alleged role in incidents that led to the murder of 28-year-old Mohsin Shaikh.
Seeking Desai’s custody for 7 days, the city police told the court that HRS workers had on June 1 held a meeting on his directive and decided “something had to be done” in response to derogatory images on Facebook.
Desai, arrested on Tuesday in the case of Shaikh on June 2, was produced before a Judicial Magistrate (First Class) on Wednesday. The police said they wanted to find his alleged role in the murder. Desai was represented by three lawyers.
His lawyers said there was no evidence to show his involvement and alleged he was arrested due to political pressure.
Assistant public prosecutor B R Patil told the court that police investigation prima facie shows Desai’s involvement in the conspiracy that eventually resulted in death of Shaikh.
Patil said his interrogation was important to ascertain his exact role. He said, “On January 19, Desai held a rally in Hadapsar where he had given a provocative speech. On March 17, he gave a provocative speech and distributed pamphlets bearing objectionable matter in Hadapsar, Pune Cantonment and Loni Kalbhor areas, which led to tension. On June 1, HRS workers held a meeting in the city where it was decided “they have to do something” in response to derogatory images of some iconic Maratha personalities on Facebook”
“It appears the group of 20 HRS members who attacked and killed Shaikh on June 2 did so in consultation with Desai,” said Patil seeking police custody.
Defence lawyer Rajendra Sonawale said his role was not clearly mentioned in the remand report and the FIR. The FIR doesn’t say he was killed at Desai’s behest or direction. “Since June 3 my client has been in police custody… in connection with… provocative pamphlets. Then he spent two more days in jail. All this time, why did police not tell the court anything about Desai’s involvement?” Sonawale said.
Police acted under political pressure, according to his lawyers.
‘Innocent’, claim kin
PUNE: When Dhananjay Desai was brought to courtroom for the hearing, his sister applied tilak to Desai’s forehead. While the hearing was on, both his sister and his wife were chanting mantras. Rupali said after the hearing, “He has not done anything…I am sure he will be proved innocent.”
HRS activists see a conspiracy angle
PUNE: HRS activists alleged that violence that followed defamatory FB posts was a political conspiracy of the Congress and NCP and said no leader appealed for peace. Swapnil Jagushte, an office-bearer of HRS from Mumbai said, “For victory of Modi-led alliance, campaign by several Hindu organisations in the state was one of the reasons. Now the state government is conspiring against all organisations. None of their leaders came out in the open to appeal for peace.”