Three men picked up by Pune Police on suspicion of being “illegal Bangladeshis”, after a vigilante-style raid by MNS workers on Saturday, were let go after they were confirmed to be Indian citizens from West Bengal.
The men, however, had to spend the full day at the police station. One of the three men has submitted a complaint against the MNS workers alleging harassment, trespassing and invasion of privacy. No FIR has been registered so far.
On Saturday, a group of about 40-50 MNS workers, led by party leader Rahul Gawli, barged into a building — Gulmohor Apartment in Balajinagar area of Dhankavadi — accompanied by police personnel. The men muscled into the houses of three “suspected Bangladeshis” and demanded documentary evidence to prove they were Indians.
Amid media glare, the three men, identified as Dilshad Mansuri, Roshan Shaikh and Bappi Sardar, were rounded up and questioned in front of other residents.
Although the men showed documents to prove they were Indians hailing from West Bengal, they were taken to Sahakar Nagar police station and held there until the evening.
While Dilshad operates a Kachhi Dabeli stall, Bappi is an electrician and Roshan Shaikh earns a living by polishing gold and silver jewelry.
Roshan Shaikh, a father of two, said he hails from Hooghly district and moved to Pune in 1998, from when he has been staying at the same location.
“At the police station, the cops took details of my mother in Hooghly and called her. Although she confirmed that I belong to Hooghly, the police officer asked her to go to the nearest police station and request the local cops to re-confirm that I was her son born in India. My mother had to rush to the Pandua police station and request the policeman to speak to cops in Pune. Even after this condition was met, they made me wait at the police station until 6 pm, while my wife and kids anxiously waited for me, Shaikh has said in a complaint submitted at Sahkar Nagar police station Sunday.
MNS workers said they had decided to undertake the raids following orders from the party high-command.
“Raj Thackeray saheb had given us an aadesh (order) to remove Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims staying in Maharashtra illegally. As per this directive, we gathered early morning in presence of the police at the thickly crowded Balajinagar area, where many illegal immigrants stay. After conducting the raid, we handed over the illegal Bangladeshis to the police. Although they showed some ID documents, they were clearly fake,” Sachin Katkar of the MNS claimed.
As per Katkar, MNS workers had been keeping a watch on the “suspected Bangladeshis” for about a week. “They would return home at 1 or 1.30 am and leave early morning around 8.30 am,” added Katkar.
According to the police, the men were let off as they were found to be Indians.
“All three men are Indians and hence they were let off. It’s true that one of the three has submitted a complaint application with us alleging he was harassed by MNS activists. We will enquire and take appropriate action,” said Sarjerao Babar, Assistant Commissioner of Police.
MNS workers have undertaken similar raids in Mumbai in the past few weeks, after party president Raj Thackeray held a mega rally in Mumbai on February 9 in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and demanded that illegal Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan be “thrown out”. Thackeray said if the police don’t do the job, party workers will take up the task on their own.