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Palghar mob lynching of sadhus: SC asks Maharashtra govt to file status report

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The today asked the Maharashtra government to apprise it of the inquiry and action taken against the errant police personnel in the alleged mob lynching of three people, including two sadhus, in Palghar in April.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy asked the state government to also file the charge sheet before it, saying it would like to examine the report.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor general said media reports suggest that the Charge sheets filed in the case comprised more than 10,000 pages. He said whether there were policemen involved in the offence or was there any dereliction of duty calling for disciplinary action, that has to be considered by the court.

The bench posted the matter after three weeks.

On 11 June, the apex court had sought a response from the state government on two petitions seeking separate probes by the CBI and the NIA into the Palghar mob lynching.

The bench was hearing petitions including the one filed by sadhus of Sri Panch Dashban Juna Akhara and relatives of the seers who died.

Their plea alleged the investigation by the state police was being conducted in a biased manner.

Ghanshyam Upadhyay had filed the other plea, seeking an NIA probe into the incident.

Besides the Maharashtra government, one of the petitions has arrayed the Centre, CBI and the director general of police of Maharashtra as respondents in the matter.

On 16 April, the three victims from Kandivali in Mumbai were going to Gujarat where they were not allowed to enter due to the COVID-necessitated nationwide lockdown. The Maharashtra Police personnel escorting the sadhus allegedly misled them, saying a certain road through the jungle in Village Gadchinchile was a safe passage to return.

On their way back, a Maoist group reportedly accompanied by a huge mob of converts — who continue to sport Hindu names — were waiting for an ambush. In the videos that surfaced, the cops were seen in cahoots with the mob, which attacked the sadhus, alleging that the seers were child traffickers.

The victims were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, 70, Sushil Giri Maharaj, 35, and Nilesh Telgade, 30, who was driving the vehicle.

While hearing a separate plea seeking a CBI probe in the case, the top court had on May 1 directed the Maharashtra government to submit a status report on the investigation in the matter.

Sadhus of Sri Panch Dashban Juna Akhara filed the plea and sought transfer of the probe to the CBI. They said that there was “reasonable apprehension of bias” if Maharashtra Police proceeded with the investigation.

“Several video clippings have emerged on social media and news reports which very clearly demonstrate the active involvement of the police present, who can be seen handing over the three persons to the unlawful assembly of persons gathered,” the plea has claimed about the Palghar incident. The police have over 100 people in connection with the case.

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