In a brutal reminder of the attack on and murder of sadhus in Palghar, four sadhus were attacked in Maharashtra’s Sangli on suspicion of being child lifters. Assistant Sub-inspector Pankaj Pawar of Umadi police stated that they took suo moto cognizance of the incident after the video of the assault went viral on social media.
The police confirmed the arrest of six persons in the case. “There was an altercation, which suddenly escalated, and the sadhus were beaten up with sticks by locals,” said a police official adding the police learned that the four belonged to an akhada in Uttar Pradesh after arriving on the scene. “We’ve not received any complaint/formal report, but are looking into viral videos & verifying facts. Necessary action to be taken,” said Sangli SP Dikshit Gedam.
“In the sadhus killing case in Palghar, then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government meted out injustice to them. But the present Maharashtra government will not allow any injustice against any sadhu,” BJP’s Ram Kadam said.
The incident took place in Jat tehsil’s Lavana village on Tuesday. Four sadhus belonging to Uttar Pradesh were travelling to Pandharpur in Maharashtra from Karnataka’s Bijapur. They resumed their journey on Tuesday after stopping at the temple outside the village on Monday. The sadhus sought directions from a youngster and were subsequently attacked by the villagers who assumed them to be members of criminal gangs that kidnap children.
The police said that the youngster from whom the four sought directions knew only the Kannada language. According to certain media reports, the boy raised an alarm as he was scared and following this the villagers assaulted the sadhus.
The police have registered a case under IPC sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) against the accused. Five persons have been named while 15 unknown persons have also been booked as accused in the case. The police were not able to establish contact with the sadhus who have proceeded on their pilgrimage.
Two sadhus and their driver were lynched to death by a 200-strong mob in Maharashtra’s Palghar district in April 2020 in the presence of the police. Kalpvriksh Giri Maharaj (70) & Sushil Giri Maharaj (35), and their driver Nilesh Telgade, residents of the Kandivali suburb of Mumbai were travelling to Gujarat from Mumbai. The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government was pulled up by the Supreme Court in the case.
(This article was originally published in Hindu Post and has been republished here with permission.)