On April 16, 2020 a group of villagers in Palghar district of Maharashtra dragged out three men out of their car and beat them to death on suspicion that they were thieves. The attack on the three took place amid a nationwide lockdown. Two among the three men brutally killed were ‘Saadhus’ and one was their driver.
Few videos, purportedly of the gruesome incident, have gone viral on social media. The disturbing visuals have resulted in nationwide outrage with hashtags like Palghar and lynching trending on Twitter in India.
Today, the Inspector General of Police, Konkan Range, Niket Kaushik suspended the police station in-charge under whose jurisdiction the incident took place on April 16, 2020 and another cop for alleged dereliction of duty.
To verify the veracity of the news, in an exclusive interview, LawStreet Journal contacted Mr. Hemant Katkar , who is the Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the SP (Palgarh), wherein he disclosed that the two guilty officers were being suspended for dereliction of duty. The names of the suspended officers are Anand Rao Kale, API and Sudhir Katare, ASI.
A police official said that “villagers stopped the vehicle on the Dhabadi- Khanvel road near village Gadchinchale when the three were on their way to Surat to attend a funeral. The locals then pulled out of the three from their car and attacked them with stones and other objects on suspicion that they were thieves”. The three were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushilgiri Maharaj (35) and their car driver Nilesh Telgade (30).
Inspector Anandrao Kale of the Kasa police station told news agency PTI that “the incident took place between 9.30-10 pm on Thursday”. A senior official was quoted as saying that “an initial response team of the police could not save the three as the force was heavily outnumbered and the victims were beaten up even inside the police vehicle”. The police official said that “more than 100 people were detained by the police for their involvement in the crime”.
On April 19, 2020 former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis slamming the Maharashtra government, Fadnavis said, “Palghar mob lynching is very cruel and a serious matter. It is more shocking to us the way the police did not take any action against people gathering in the area with sticks.” He added, “What can be more shameful than the way police handed over these people into the hands of a berserk mob and allowed them to take the law into their hands.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already ordered a high-level probe into the Palghar lynching incident while saying that culprits will be brought to justice. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also sought a report from Maharashtra government over the Palghar mob lynching incident, which took place around 150 km away from Mumbai.
Warning against giving any communal colour to the Palghar incident, the Maharashtra Deputy CM said the police were keeping a watch on those who wanted to use this incident to create a rift in the society.
Maharashtra CM promising stern action in the Palghar mob lynching case said that “The Palghar incident has been acted upon. The police have arrested all those accused who attacked the 2 sadhus, 1 driver, and the police personnel, on the day of the crime itself.” He added, “Nobody guilty in this heinous crime and shameful act will be spared and they will be brought to justice in the strongest way possible.”
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urged Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to take strict action against the culprits involved in the lynching of three men in Palghar district. He said that “Spoke to Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray yesterday evening regarding the murder of saints of Juna Akhara Swami Kalpvrikshgiri, Swami Sushilgiri and their driver Neelesh Telgarhe. I have urged him to take strict action against the culprits.”