No Muslim among 101 arrested over Palghar lynching: Maharashtra home minister

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The attempt by a section of Hindu organisations to implicate Muslim outfits in the lynching of two Hindu seers and their driver in Palghar last week has suffered a setback with Maharashtra police finding no involvement of any Muslim in the incident.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was quoted by news agency ANI on Wednesday as saying there were no Muslims in the "list of 101 people arrested" over the incident. He said that a special officer of IG rank was investigating the case and the name of the arrested would soon be released.

The Hindu organisations had targeted Muslims after a sound in a video clip circulated in the social media was interpreted as Shoaib, a Muslim sounding name. Referring to contentious video clips, Deshmukh pointed out that, "There was a sound heard in the video, 'oye bas'; people circulated it online and some called it 'Shoaib bas'."

On Tuesday, The Quint reported that the videos about 'Shoaib' had been extensively circulated to fan claims of Muslim involvement in the Palghar lynching. The Quint quoted Gaurav Singh, PRO of the Palghar SP, as saying, "no 'maar Shoaib maar' slogans can be heard in the videos".

The incident took place on the night of April 16 when three men - two seers and their driver - were going from Mumbai in a car towards Surat in Gujarat to attend a funeral. Their vehicle was stopped near a village in Palghar district where the three were dragged out of the car and beaten to death with sticks by a mob on suspicion that they were child-lifters.

The deceased were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushilgiri Maharaj (35), and driver Nilesh Telgade (30). The Maharashtra government earlier ordered a high- level probe into the incident, and two policemen from Palghar were suspended on Monday for alleged dereliction of duty.

PTI quoted Deshmukh as saying that in the run up to the incident, a rumour did rounds in Palghar that some people were lifting children during night.

"The police arrested 101 people in connection with the incident within eight hours after it took place. They had run into neighbouring jungles, but were caught by police. There is no Muslim brother among these 101 people, Deshmukh said.

An attempt was made to give the incident a political colour. And this is very unfortunate. Communal politics is being played, Deshmukh alleged and added that it was unfortunate that such politics is being played at a time when the entire state is engaged in a battle against coronavirus.

"It is not the time to play politics, but to fight coronavirus collectively. It is unfortunate some people are seeing 'Mungerilal ke haseen sapne' at this juncture, the minister said.

Image Credit: The Quint

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