Do not fuel Palghar fire, CM Uddhav Thackeray warns

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 07:26 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Uddhav Thackeray says lynching of the three men last week was not communal, sets up probe under CID chief

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday denied a communal angle in the lynching of three men in Palghar, saying that it was a clear case of misunderstanding and over 100 suspects, including the five main accused, were arrested.

"Please don't give this a communal colour. The people who are doing it must understand that mob lynchings have happened even before, not just elsewhere, but in Maharashtra too. We also know the reasons for those killings but I don't want to discuss that because I don't want to politicise the issue," he said in a webcast on Monday, adding that such incidents were unfortunate when the state is fighting the Coronavirus pandemic.

Two police officers have been suspended for dereliction of duty in the incident that occurred on the night of April 16. Additional Director General of Police Atul Kulkarni, who heads the state CID, has been asked to probe the case, Thackeray said. The mob had also attacked police awnd could be dispersed only after additional forces arrived and fired some rounds in the air.

Thackeray said he has discussed the matter with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath. "Shah also knows that nothing of this sort (communal attack) has happened in the case. He has information from all over the country and he is convinced. Yogi ji also understood me," he said.

Sources said the CM and his UP counterpart had a telephonic discussion because the killed sadhus were associated with the Juna Akhada in Kashi. The sadhus were going to Gujarat to attend an associate's funeral. Thackeray switched to Hindi while addressing the state so that the Hindi-speaking sadhus understood him properly.

"Kehete hain aap ab kyun chup baithe hai. Aag lagane wale aag na lagayen. Hum kisiko nahin chhodenge. (They say I'm not doing anything. Don't fuel the fire. I will not spare anyone)," said the CM.

Blames UT police
Thackeray said the killing could have been avoided had the sadhus been allowed to enter the union territory of Dadra, Nagar and Haveli through the Palghar border.

"The sadhus took a less-busy road perhaps because they thought it would be easier for travel than the other roads. But the border check-post police sent them back in the thick of night. Though ifs and buts don't matter now, I feel that they could have been saved if they were allowed to cross the border or detained if the police were not satisfied. The police could have let the sadhus travel further after enquiring," he said.

He said the incident didn't take place in Palghar town but near the Gadchinchale village, which is 110 km away from the district headquarters but very close to the UT border.

"They were attacked by villagers because of rumours that gangs of thieves were operating there. Police forces reached there after getting information and combed the region and the forests to arrest over 100 attackers, including five main suspects and nine minors," he said.

16
Day last week when the lynching took place in Palghar

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