Palghar lynching: Two weeks on, no fresh arrests

Updated: 30 April, 2020 07:53 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Police say some of the culprits are hiding in the hills and pelt stones at them, while others have sheltered at relatives' houses in Jawhar division or in Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Drone image of heavy police presence at the Palghar lynching site. Pics/Diwakar Sharma (special arrangement)
Drone image of heavy police presence at the Palghar lynching site. Pics/Diwakar Sharma (special arrangement)

Almost two weeks since the lynching of the three men from Mumbai in Palghar, no fresh arrests have been made in the case, as the tribals involved in the crime continue to give the police the slip. The investigating team says a few of them are hiding in the hills and pelt stones at the police whenever they inch closer to them.

Some others, the police say, have taken shelter in the houses of relatives in Jawhar forest division, while some have crossed the border to hide in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

While the police continue to hunt for the culprits, many of them are a demotivated lot, as three more personnel were suspended for 'dereliction of duty' in the lynching case. Some of them claim police personnel were also beaten up by the mob and are being suspended and transferred for no fault of theirs.

Police on the hunt for the tribals
Police on the hunt for the tribals

Fled with food and family
After lynching the trio – Chikne Maharaj, 70, Sushil Giri, 35, and their cab driver Nilesh Tilghate, 30 - on the night of April 16, and before the police crackdown next morning, almost all the inhabitants of Gadchinchale village and nearby hamlets took off with food and family members including kids, said Sonudaji Borsa, a watchman at the forest post and a witness to the barbaric incident.

Helped by other villagers?
Police sources have not ruled out the possibility that residents of other hamlets in the forest supply food and other essentials to the tribals in the night, when the police team scales down the hills. Police sources told mid-day that they have received inputs that a few of the tribals have taken shelter at distant relatives' houses in Jawhar forest division and some went to Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

"The villagers are aware of the geography of the jungle and hilly regions of Palghar and Dahanu. On April 17, most of them managed to run towards the dense forest and climb the hills. Chances are very high that they have crossed the area bordering Dadra and Nagar Haveli as they know the internal jungle routes," said a police officer.

The investigating team under the supervision of Atulchandra Kulkarni, Additional Director General of Police (CID), Maharashtra Police has also retrieved the dumb data (mobile locations etc) of the lynching site to track those who were present at the spot either to instigate the mob, or kill the trio, or out of curiosity. Till now the Palghar police have arrested 110 people including nine juveniles in connection with the mob lynching. A total of three FIRs have been registered at Kasa police station and the complainants are API Anandrao Kale, PSI Sudhir Katare and SDPO Bhagwat Sonawane of Jawhar division.

At least 19 arrests across border
The fourth FIR was registered at Khanvel police station after the reinforcement coming from Talasari via Dadra and Nagar Haveli was stopped by a mob of 250 people and the Additional SP was attacked. The superintendent of police of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Sharad Darade told mid-day that 19 accused have been arrested under sections of IPC, Disaster Management Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. "All are residents of Chisda in Khanvel," said Darade, who added that the matter is being investigated considering all the angles including the Maoist link.

Tribals were jobless
The tribals work in the brick factories in Bhiwandi. "The tribals go to Bhiwandi with their wives and children to work there. They remain there for four months and return in June and work for the cultivation of paddy. But due to the lockdown, all the workers in these factories were sent back home in March. Had there been no lockdown, all the people would have been working in the brick factories in Bhiwandi," said a retired police officer.

Three more policemen suspended

Three more policemen have been suspended for 'dereliction of duty' in connection with the mob lynching.

They include Assistant Sub-Inspector Ravindra Salunkhe and Head Constables Santosh Mukane and Naresh Dodi.

"Salunkhe, who is set to retire next year, is the policeman seen in the video with Chikne Maharaj. Those commenting and making decisions based on the video must know that he (Salunkhe) too was beaten and threatened by the mob on April 16," said a Palghar police officer.

"It is really discouraging that the policemen are being suspended and transferred for no fault of theirs. Transfers and suspensions are very easy for senior police officers. But show us the courage to tackle a frenzied mob of 2,500 with a handful of policemen," challenged a policeman.

Earlier PSI Katare and API Kale were suspended and 35 policemen attached to Kasa police station were transferred.

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First Published: 30 April, 2020 07:20 IST

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