The Palghar police have arrested 101 people and detained nine minors in connection with the lynching Thursday night of three men allegedly by a mob of villagers in the district. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said Sunday an inquiry had been ordered into the incident, and warned against communalising it.
Senior officers said that an inquiry would be conducted to find out what steps the police had taken to help the victims after allegations that the police ran away from the spot leaving the victims to fend for themselves.
Palghar Superintendent of Police Gaurav Singh said that investigation into the lynching of the three men have so far focused on identifying the sources of the rumours spread in the tribal village of Gadchinchle in Dahanu taluka.
“An inquiry will soon be conducted to ascertain what measures were taken by policemen who reached the scene and had taken the victims into a police van,” he said.
A video of the incident that surfaced on Sunday shows a mob dragging the victims out of the police van and assaulting them with sticks and stones. There is also footage of one of the victims holding a policeman’s hand for protection, as they walked towards a vehicle but as the mob rained blows on the man’s head, the policeman is seen shaking him off and turning away to protect himself.
The victims, wearing faded saffron dhotis and kurtas, were identified as two sadhus — Kalpruksh Giri and Chikne Maharaj — from an ashram in Kandivili, who were travelling to Surat to attend a funeral and Nilesh Telgade, the driver of the van.
But the people of Gadchinchle, a tribal village in a remote part of the district, are alleged to have mistaken them for child-kidnappers and organ harvesters.
The police have so far arrested 101 people and detained nine minors. They adults are currently in 12-day police custody while the minors have been sent to an observation home.
Soon after the lynching, District Magistrate Kailash Shinde had promised that an inquiry would be conducted against personnel from the Kasa police station who had responded to the incident.
The surfacing of the footage on social media three days after the incident triggered a controversy about the inaction of the police as seen in the video.
Taking to Twitter, Opposition leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis wrote, “Seeing the visuals that have come out, Palghar incident of mob lynching is shocking & inhuman. It is more disturbing especially when we are going through such tough times otherwise too. I urge the State Government to immediately set up a High Level Enquiry and ensure that people who are responsible for this are brought to justice at the earliest.”
Late on Sunday, Deshmukh also tweeted that it was on his orders that the arrests had been made and an inquiry ordered into the incident.
“Both the accused villagers and the victims are of the same religion. If anyone is found using this incident to create communal unrest, cyber police has been asked to to register cases and take strict action against such elements”.
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