Mumbai: Legislators face off with state govt over suspension

The standoff between legislators and the government continued with both houses of state legislature adjourning amid din over demands of suspension of a Crime Branch ACP and revocation of suspension of five MLAs. 

All-party legislators have been trying to prevent further arrests by taking a confrontationist stand against the government and the police, say political sources.

Giving up: MLAs Ram Kadam and Kshitij Thakur(below), accused of thrashing Traffic API Sachin Suryavanshi in Vidhan Bhavan, surrendered at the police headquarters at Crawford Market on Thursday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Lawmakers have targeted Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Home Minister R R Patil for their alleged inaction in siding with five MLAs facing suspension over beating up traffic cop API Sachin Suryavanshi on Tuesday.

In a meeting at Vidhan Bhavan on Friday, a few senior MLAs aggressively pushed for suspending API Suryavanshi, as well ACP Yashwant Vhatkar of the Crime Branch, while slamming the IPS lobby for taking undue interest in the episode.

According to sources, Chavan and Patil were non-committal to their demands. “While a probe is on in Suryavanshi’s alleged rude behaviour with Nallasopara MLA Kshitij Thakur at the sea link, Vhatkar needs no suspension,” the home minister reportedly told the legislators. He added that Vhatkar along with Inspector KV Nigde had visited Vidhan Bhavan on Wednesday only to collect CCTV footage and not to arrest the accused MLAs.

About state officials’ meetings with IPS officers, Patil said he and DGP Sanjeev Dayal met Assembly Speaker Dilip Walse Patil to clarify the matter. “The meeting was not about discussing any strategy in the wake of the incident,” he said, adding it was to send the message that the incident should not create a rift between politicians and police.

“The legislators, however, want to exert maximum pressure on the state to prevent further arrests,” said sources. Legislators argue that there cannot be two punishments for one wrong. “The suspension cannot be enforced with police investigation already underway and should be revoked immediately,” they said.

In the FIR lodged with Marine Drive police, API Suryavanshi said that 14 to 15 MLAs beat him but he could recognise only Kshitij Thakur and Ram Kadam. To take the matter ahead, police may need to make more arrests but as the scenario has come to a head the possibility appears remote, said a senior legislator.

Even as it was for the crime branch to investigate further and make arrests, sources said it might not happen as the legislature stalled house proceedings with repeated adjournments over the issue. 

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