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Palghar lynching: 'They couldn't blame Muslims, so now it's Communists'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
April 23, 2020 08:47 IST
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'When you have a village which is controlled by the BJP, who are the people likely to perpetrate the attack?'

Days after Maharashtra witnessed the horrific mob lynching of three men in Palghar district, a political slugfest has erupted between political parties including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India-Marxist.

Two sadhus and their driver, proceeding from Nashik to Surat in Gujarat, were cornered and lynched by a large mob outside Gadchinchle village in Palghar district on April 16 in the presence of police personnel amid rumours that they were robbers or child kidnappers.

Soon a political twist was given to the ghastly incident when a whispering campaign emerged online about the assailants being Muslim.

With the Maharashtra government moving quickly to nip the canard in the bud, and stating that not one of those arrested was Muslim, the campaign turned to the fact that Palghar was a stronghold of Marxists and hinted darkly at the Marxist-Christian nexus being behind the murders.

Bharatiya Janata Party Spokesperson Dr Sambit Patra tweeted: 'It was in the Dahanu assembly constituency in Maharashtra's Palghar district where the killing of saints took place. This region is the stronghold of the CPI-M. The MLA here is also from the Communist party. NCP also has an alliance with CPI-M in the region. This murder is the work of Marxist goons and hence the entire Left brigade is silent.'

The Communist Party of India-Marxist has threatened to file a defamation suit against Dr Patra and BJP leader Sunil Deodhar for their allegations of Marxist involvement.

Dr Ashok Dhawale, president of the All India Kisan Sabha and a member of the CPI-M's central committee, has been actively working in the Dahanu-Palghar area for 30 years.

"Not a single person from the CPI-M is mentioned in the FIR. There are five main accused... We have found that some of these people are politically inclined towards the BJP. Three of them are definitely supporters of the BJP," Dr Dhawale tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

 

What happened in Palghar? Why did the sadhus reach there, according to you?

They did not have a permit to go to Surat. Had they got the permit during the lockdown they would have gone to Surat by the National Highway.

They realised they would be caught by the police and would be sent back and so they went by remote roads.

This route is a very interior road and goes to Nagar-Haveli, the Union territory.

To escape the police, these sadhus went through deserted roads. They were stopped by a forest guard. They told him they were going to a funeral so he let them go.

But unfortunately, they were not allowed to enter Nagar-Haveli as they did not have a permit.

Now, the police of Nagar-Haveli should have kept them in their chowkie and let them go back in the morning. But the police sent them back.

Now when they were coming back, the same forest guard stopped them and then the mob arrived.

Prior to this lynching, on April 14, an Adivasi doctor had gone to a village called Sarni, and was attacked. He had gone in the night to help with medicines, but because of these rumours he too was attacked.

Sarni village is just 5 to 10 kilometres away from the lynching site. This lynching happened because of a misunderstanding.

But the police did not save them.

There are two versions. The first version is that there were only four policemen at the spot and they could have fired in the air, but they did not do so. Now an inquiry will reveal what happened.

The second version is that after the lynching, 12 more policemen came to the spot.

So why are you filing this defamation case against Sambit Patra and Sunil Deodhar?

First of all, this Palghar incident is a very unfortunate incident. We totally condemn it. This should not happen anywhere.

Unfortunately, two things have been happening after the incident. That is the reason we are filing defamation.

Firstly, some people tried to communalise this incident in a very disgusting manner. And they are clearly from rhe BJP as they are putting up all kinds of posts on social media.

They eventually realised there is not a single Muslim in that village where the sadhus (were lynched) so the Hindu-Muslim angle can't work.

This village is a tribal village. That entire area is a tribal area.

Second, this area comes under the Dahanu assembly constituency. This is a base of the Communist Party of India-Marxist for the last 75 years ever since Comrade Godavari Parulekar, a very legendary leader, started the revolt of the Warli Adivasi tribe in 1945.

Now, Comrade Vinod Nikolai is the sitting MLA of our party. We have won this seat from 1978, 9 out of 10 times. We only lost once, in 2014.

Now they thought since the Hindu-Muslim issue is not working, they will try to blame it on the CPI-M.

Therefore, they started this whole campaign on social media that all the people who killed the sadhus were CPI-M men and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) members. In that area both parties are in alliance.

The MLA is from the CPI-M and the zilla parishad chief who was elected in January 2020 in that area is from the NCP.

We, secular forces, are together, therefore they started attacking us.

The climax was when Sambit Patra and Sunil Deodhar in their social media posts said that this is a CPI-M stronghold and therefore the killers are of the CPI-M. This is absolutely nonsensical logic.

But...

We went to the grassroots and found out that the village Gadchinchle where this lynching took place is a BJP stronghold.

The present sarpanch is also of the BJP. Her name is Chitra Choudhry and she is a tribal.

In fact, there is an image circulating of Chitra Choudhry being felicitated by a former BJP MLA in December 2016.

How can a village controlled by the BJP have anything to do with the killings of sadhus?

When you have a village which is controlled by the BJP, who are the people likely to be the people to perpetrate the attack? You get the point.

Organiser -- the RSS's English weekly -- blames (exeternal link) the CPI-M for the lynchings.

Not a single person from the CPI-M is mentioned in the FIR (First Information Report).

There are five main accused and there are 400 other people who are not named.

Among those main accused, no one is from the CPI-M. We have checked this in the last two days.

We have found that some of these people are politically inclined towards the BJP. Three of them are definitely supporters of the BJP.

Right wing Web sites allege the Kashtakari Sanghatana is behind the attack. They allege the Dahanu-Palghar belt is full of Christian missionaries and the CPI-M network.

They didn't find Muslims so now they are blaming Christians and Communists.

2,500 people reportedly came out to kill the sadhus. How did so many people reach the site all of a sudden?

We don't believe 2,500 people came. The correct figure is 400, 500 people. This is what the police has said.

A lot of rumour-mongering was going on for the last 8 to 10 days in the Palghar-Dahanu area. And the rumours were that the Muslims were coming to that area in different garb -- in the garb of sadhus or doctors.

They will then spit in wells and spread coronavirus disease. And if not that, they will kidnap children for kidneys. These rumours were going on very strong in that district.

Now the police will have to find out who was spreading this and who is responsible. This cannot be spontaneous.

It is a law and order problem, so should the state government not take some blame?

We have blamed the police for their negligence in our statement.

We blame the police for negligence and for their act of omission.

Now what they are doing as an act of commission, they are arresting all innocent and sundry.

Definitely, the police is at fault.

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
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