Palghar (Maharashtra): The Maharashtra government has penalized 18 policemen in the district, including one dismissal, in a fallout of the April 16 Palghar lynching case which claimed the lives of two sadhus and their driver, an official said here on Monday.
“Following a departmental enquiry, Assistant Police Inspector Anandrao Kale has been served with dismissal orders while his colleagues — Assistant Sub-Inspector Ravi Salunkhe and Constable Naresh Dhodi — have been compulsorily retired,” Palghar Police Spokesperson Sachin Navadkar told IANS.
Besides, 16 others have also been punished with a freeze on their promotions, increments and salaries for a specified period for their conduct during the incident.
The dismissal, compulsory retirement, no-promotion and no-increment orders, all with immediate effect, were issued by Konkan Range Inspector-General of Police Niket Kaushik, said Navadkar.
Assistant Police Inspector Sudhir Katare and Constable Santosh Mukne, will not get any service increments for the next two years.
All the above – Kale, Salunkhe, Dhodi, Katare and Mukne – were posted at that time in the Kasa Police Station under whose jurisdiction the mob lynching took place.
Besides, members of the crack team of the Riot Control Police at Palghar Police Headquarters – 10 Police Sepoys will forfeit their increments for three years and 3 Police Sepoys will lose their increments for one year.
Despite a SOS from Kasa Police, the RCP team reportedly did not reach the venue in time to help the local police and help control the mob violence which erupted that night.
Official sources said that this was “unprecedented” and one of the biggest punitive actions simultaneously hitting so many state police personnel for a single incident.
In a major reshuffle after the incident, in April-May, Katare and Mukne were suspended by the then Palghar Superintendent of Police Gaurav Singh while another 35 police personnel of Kasa Police Station were transferred to other parts of the district.
On May 7, during his visit to the Gadchinchale village in Kasa – where the lynchings took place — Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had sent SP Singh on compulsory leave and he awaits a posting till now.
On April 16 night, the victims — Kalpavrikshagiri Maharaj, 70, his assistant Sushilgiri Maharaj, 35, of the Juna Akhada, and their driver Nilesh Telgade, 30, were waylaid when they were en route from Mumbai to Surat for a funeral during the lockdown.
Mistaking them to be robbers or kidnappers, a huge mob of over 800 tribals and villagers pounced on them with stones, sticks and sickles, and the trio later succumbed to grievous injuries — sparking a nationwide political furore.
The case which was subsequently handed over to the state CID resulted in three chargesheets being filed against a total of 126 accused before the Dahanu Magistrate Court, besides 11 juveniles and 28 others against whom investigations are still underway.
As per the chargesheet, there was wild rumour-mongering on social media sites like WhatsApp claiming that some persons from a minority community would be arriving in Gadchinchale, Divshi, Kinhavli, Dabhadi villages in Palghar and Rudana in the adjoining Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar-Haveli, with the alleged intent to kidnap children and people to remove their body organs.
While 11 juvenile accused were granted bail by the Juvenile Justice Board, 10 other accused (adults) were granted default bail as the chargesheet against them was not filed within the mandatory 90 days.
The accused were booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code, Disaster Management Act, Epidemic Diseases Act, Maharashtra Police Act, Maharashtra Damage to Public Property (Amendment) Act, with charges pertaining to murder, attempt to murder, armed rioting, using criminal force to prevent a public servant from discharging his duties.