Palghar lynching: 'No one informed us that a mob killed my brother'

Updated: Apr 28, 2020, 07:22 IST | Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

Says the brother of 70-year-old Kalpavrishkgiri Maharaj who along with two others were lynched by hundreds of tribals in Palghar district this month

Kalpavrishkgiri Chikne Maharaj and Rakesh Tiwari
Kalpavrishkgiri Chikne Maharaj and Rakesh Tiwari

No one informed us that my brother had been killed. We heard about his death on news," said Rakesh Tiwari, the brother of Kalpavrishkgiri Chikne Maharaj who was lynched in Palghar earlier this month, from Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi taluka where the deceased priest's family lives.

On the night of April 16, a frenzied mob of close to 450 tribals lynched 70-year-old Chikne Maharaj, another priest and their driver, suspecting them to be thieves, at Gadchinchale village. While the incident made headlines across the nation, Chikne Maharaj's family learnt about his death only two days later.

Rakesh told mid-day over the phone that neither the police nor the authorities in the state informed them about his demise. We learnt through the news two days later that Kalpavrishkgiri had been brutally murdered in Palghar, he said.

Kalpavrishkgiri had left his home in Uttar Pradesh at the age of nine and was reunited with his family after 20-long years. When Kalpavrishkgiri was nine years old, he left home for Gramsabha Bhusavla school at Bhadohi one day, and never returned. We searched for him across the town but didn't find him." After reuniting with him 26 years later, the family learnt that he had gone to Nashik to become a monk, Rakesh said.

"We found his address when Kalpavrishkgiri was about 35-year-old and learnt that he had become a priest. After leaving UP, he had gone to Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple to become a monk and later moved to Mumbai. He was a priest at Vandevi temple at Jogeshwari East. We accepted him and I used to meet him whenever I visited Mumbai."

Kalpavrishkgiri wanted to attend the last rites of our mother, who died on March 22, said Rakesh, adding that he couldn't make it to Uttar Pradesh due to the lockdown in Mumbai announced by the Maharashtra government in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

"On March 22, I called to my brother to inform him about our mother's demise, but due to the restrictions he could not attend her funeral. He was our mother's favourite son," Rakesh told mid-day. Rakesh said, "Our wish was to attend my brother's final rites but we received the information very later and that too from the media."

He also accused the police of failing to save his brothers and the two others with him. The videos clearly show that the police surrendered my brother to the mob, who then brutally thrashed him to death, said Rakesh, adding that the police could have saved Kalpavrishkgiri.

"Not a single police officer informed us about his death," Rakesh told mid-day.

Tilghate was driving Chikne Maharaj and Sushil Giri to Surat where the duo were headed to attend the last rites of a head priest, Ramgiri Maharaj. However, they came across the tribals, who were enraged by the rumours that a gang of child lifters were active in the region. While the police maintain that close to 450 people were part of the mob, a local leader had said as many as 2,500 tribals had gatheredthat night.

16 April
Day the two priests and their driver were lynched

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