Sadhus lynched, cops stared: What exactly happened in Palghar?
On Thursday night, a horrific incident played out in Palghar, Maharashtra, barely 125 kilometer away from Mumbai. A 200-member strong mob lynched three people, including two sadhus, while police did little to control the violence. The incident has snowballed into a huge political controversy with opposition BJP lashing out at Shiv Sena-led government. A high-level probe has been ordered. Here's what happened.
Sadhus were Surat-bound, had to attend a funeral
Sadhus Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) and Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri (70) along with their driver Nilesh Telgane (35) were attacked in the tribal village of Gadchinchle. Reports said the spiritual leaders from Kandivali were going to Surat to attend the last rites of Ramgiri Maharaj, who passed away on April 16. They were stopped from taking the National Highway due to the lockdown, hence, took a detour.
Mob ran amok, used sticks and rods to attack sadhus
Their trip turned deadly as the mob stopped their vehicle and dragged the saffron-clad sadhus out. Some reports said the villagers mistook them as thieves but others suggested the accused acted on rumors of organ-harvesting. Visuals from the attack which surfaced on social media last night showed the unruly mob, armed with sticks and rods, unleashing its demonic side on the deceased.
Mob was strong, attacked police, said API
If Anandrao Kale, an assistant police inspector (API) with Kasa police station, is to be believed, the mob stopped the van, questioned the occupants, and then dragged them out. The driver managed to call police before he was treated similarly. "The mob was strong and we tried to save the passengers but it also targeted us and started to pelt stones," he told HT.
Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri begged cop to help, he turned away
However, visuals from the spot show police didn't even try to help. When sticks and rods were rained on the elderly sadhu, he clung to a uniformed cop for help. But the officer shrugged him allowing the mob to do what it was doing. In one video, Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri begged the mob to spare him but his cries didn't move them.
Cop left sadhu's hand when mob attacked him
In yet another clip, the elderly was seen being escorted to the van by a cop. As he bled profusely from his head, he held the cop's hand, but the mob attacked him nevertheless. The cop then left him to fend for himself.
Warning: This clip has disturbing visuals
After watching this video it looks like Maharashtra people's are missing Balasaheb Thackeray badly. @CMOMaharashtra pls take some adequate actions agst the culprits nd stop portraying urself as the best CM. #Palghar #palgharlynching #PalgharMobLynching pic.twitter.com/mAHaiOu25G pic.twitter.com/jplTHmlWfV— FC Rathore club 😍 (@GAJURATHORE001) April 20, 2020
It was not until the videos surfaced on social media that the case was talked about. Reacting to the news, former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said a high-level investigation should happen. And Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath spoke to his Maharashtra counterpart Uddhav Thackeray demanding the same. "The Chief Minister of Maharashtra said that some persons have been arrested," Adityanath tweeted.
No one will be spared, promised Uddhav Thackeray
Late last night, Thackeray also put out a tweet saying no one would be spared and all responsible would be brought to justice. As per reports, police have arrested 101 people and detained nine minors so far. Senior officers said a probe will also be launched to look into allegations that police didn't do much to save the deceased, reports Indian Express.
Meanwhile, Anil Deshmukh said incident shouldn't be given communal color
"Both the accused villagers and the victims are of the same religion. If anyone is found using this incident to create communal unrest, cyber police have been asked to register cases and take strict action against such elements," Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said.