Palghar lynching case: BJP demands CBI inquiry, Congress says demand made to save party workers

The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have again engaged in a faceoff over Palgar lynching case after the later demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the case and announced a protest march at the spot where the lynching took place. The Congress, in turn, accused the BJP of politicising the issue and creating communal tension by raking up the issue.

BJP leader Ram Kadam had announced to take out a protest rally from Mumbai to Palghar on Wednesday to condemn ‘inept handling’ of the case. As part of the protest, he also announced lighting of diyas and staging a hunger strike in Gadchinchale, where the two seers and their driver were killed by the mob in April this year. Demanding that the probe be handed over to CBI, he asked as to why the state government was opposing the move.

“The Sadhu fraternity kept quite over the lynching because of the pandemic. But it’s time; they want justice and will take to the streets for the same,” Kadam said before he and his supporters were detained by the Mumbai Police from his Khar residence on Wednesday when they were about to begin Jan Akrosh Yatra.

The Congress has hit back at the BJP and said CBI probe was being demanded to save BJP members involved in the lynching case. “Accused number 61 and 65 and most of the other persons arrested are related to the BJP. Gadchinchale village, where the incident took place, is the citadel of the BJP and has been represented by the party’s sarpanch for the last 10 years. The party is demanding the CBI probe just to save the accused,” said Maharashtra Congress general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant.

“The police have arrested more than 225 people in Palghar mob lynching case. Of the arrested accused, 154 have been arrested for alleged involvement in the lynching and 75 for violating prohibitory orders. A few police officers, too, have been suspended for negligence in their duty. The case is currently being probed by Maharashtra crime investigation department (CID) and the judicial process has begun,” Sawant said. He added, “Despite this, the BJP has been raking up the issue after seven months for political reasons. Why did BJP leaders keep mum when the sadhus were killed in BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka? Three sadhus were killed in Karnataka, but no BJP leader raised questions over it. The party has been using such incidents for politics by linking them with the religion.”

Leader of Opposition in legislative Council Pravin Darekar said the state government has been suppressing the voice of the people seeking justice. “We will continue to fight for justice and for Hindutva what may come. The autocratic rule of the Thackeray government would not be able to stop us from speaking up for Hindutva and in the interest of Maharashtra,” he said.

On April 16, three men — two seers and their driver — were dragged out of their vehicle outside Gadchinchale, around 110 kilometres from Palghar, and beaten to death by a mob on suspicion that they were child-lifters. The incident occurred when the victims were going from Mumbai to Surat to attend a funeral.

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