Weeks after Palghar lynching, SP sent on forced leave
Three weeks after three men, including two seers, were lynched in Maharashtra, the Superintendent of Palghar police Gaurav Singh was sent on forced leave on Thursday. Before this, five cops of Kasa police station, under whose jurisdiction the Gadchinchale village comes where the horror played out, were suspended. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh visited the village and called the lynching a "blot on humanity".
On April 16, two sadhus — Chikne Kalpvrukshgiri (70), his disciple Sushilgiri Maharaj (35), and their driver Nilesh Tegade (30) — were dragged out of their vehicle and beaten to death by villagers, who allegedly mistook them as thieves. While the villagers rained blows and slaps on them, some police officers remained stationed there, doing little to help them. Naturally, the incident sparked outrage.
So far, 110 villagers have been arrested in connection to the murders. Along with state DGP Subodh Jaiswal, and a couple of officers of CID (the unit which is investigating the case), Deshmukh visited the area and said the decision against SP was taken after speaking with locals. "Additional SP Palghar is given the charge in the interim," he said in a video.
Deshmukh was apparently informed that police knew about fake news about child-lifters, yet did nothing. "It was believed that if strict action had been taken to curb the rumor-mongering, the lynching could have been avoided," an official told IE. Some families alleged their members were wrongly picked up by police but Deshmukh said he would wait for CID to finish its inquiry.
Chitra Chowdhury of BJP, who is the village sarpanch, is believed to have told Deshmukh that villagers planned to burn the trio alive. The mob was trying to find kerosene to torch their vehicle. "Instructions have been given to take strict action against those involved in the killings," Deshmukh told media. Earlier, in an unprecedented move, the state government made names of the accused public.
On a related note, a preliminary report indicted five policemen for their role in the lynching. "The report has stated the failure of these suspended policemen to prevent the triple murder. They are guilty of dereliction of duty and hence, a departmental inquiry has been recommended against them," an official said. A departmental inquiry would likely translate to no increments and non-lucrative positions.