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Palghar case: Maharashtra govt to file status report, SC asks for inquiry report against cops who handed over Sadhus to mob

"Let the State bring the charge-sheets on record … Let details of the inquiry, including the action taken against the police personnel as well as the inquiry report, be also brought on the record," the bench said.

On Thursday, the 6th of August, Supreme Court asked the Maharashtra government to file a status report in connection with the brutal lynching of two Hindu sadhus and their driver in Palghar on April 16. 

The Supreme Court has asked the state government to submit the charge-sheets it had filed in the case and asked what action has been taken against the police personnel who handed over the two Hindu Sadhus to the violent mob.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy has asked the state government to file the affidavit within three weeks. 

The Supreme Court questioning the probe being conducted by Maharashtra government noted that the police have filed an affidavit dated July 29 “which mentions in paragraph 3 that two charge-sheets have been filed in July 2020”, and that “a departmental enquiry against the police personnel was ordered and show-cause notices have been issued”.

“Let the State bring the charge-sheets on record … Let details of the inquiry, including the action taken against the police personnel as well as the inquiry report, be also brought on the record,” the bench said.

Two petitions filed seeking CBI, NIA probe into Palghar mob lynching

The top court was hearing a petition seeking a separate investigation by the CBI and the NIA into the brutal lynching of Sadhus. The Supreme Court has also sought a response from the Maharashtra government on the petitions seeking CBI, NIA probe.

The petition was filed by sadhus of “Shri Panch Dashban Juna Akhara” and relatives of the deceased seers. Their plea stated that the Maharashtra police are conducting the investigation in a biased manner. Another plea, seeking an NIA probe into the incident, has been filed by Ghanshyam Upadhyay.

Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, appearing for one of the petitioners, sought a CBI probe and stated that there has been no action against the police personnel till now.

Advocate Ashutosh Lohia, representing Juna Akhara, said Maharashtra Police had filed two FIRs and the accused will be acquitted even if a charge-sheet is filed. Questioning the police role, the petitioner added that monitoring is required to preserve the evidence.

Meanwhile, Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said media reports suggest that the charge-sheets filed in the case has more than 10,000 pages. He said the court should consider whether policemen were involved in the lynching or were there any dereliction of duty by them.

Addition to the Maharashtra government, the Centre, CBI and the Director-General of Police of Maharashtra has also been respondents in the matter.

Maharashtra police rules out ‘communal angle’

The Maharashtra Police had filed two separate charge-sheets in connection with the mob lynching of two Hindu Sadhus and their driver and had ruled out any ‘communal angle’ to the heinous incident.

The CID filed two charge-sheets of around 11,000 pages, naming over 250-plus accused in the mob lynching case to claim that lynchings of Hindu Sadhus were fuelled by rumours of a gang of thieves and not a pre-planned attack. The charge-sheets categorically denied any religious angle behind the attack of the three Hindu men.

Palghar Mob Lynching incident

On 16th April 2020, two Sadhus associated with the Juna Akhara, 70-year-old Kalpavrishka Giri Maharaj, and 35-year-old Sushil Giri Maharaj along with their driver 30-year-old Nilesh Telgadewere were on their way from Mumbai to Gujarat to give Samadhi to another Sadhu. At Gadakchinchale village, a wild and frenzied crowd of over more than 100 people attacked them. The villagers deemed them as thieves and started attacking them. The police claim that their team which had rushed to the spot to rescue the 70-year-old man also came under the attack of the violent mob.

But later videos emerged which completely debunked the claim of police, as it was seen that the sadhus were in the custody of the police, but the police personnel allegedly handed them over to the mob. The mob then proceeded to beat them to death in front of the policemen.

Later, it was also reported that the killing of the Sadhus may have been intentional and politically motivated. The involvement of Christian Missionary organisations and some local NCP leaders and leftists were also suspected.

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