The Congress on Thursday alleged that two of the accused in the Palghar mob lynching case are members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, PTI reported. The Congress demanded that the BJP take action against the accused, but the saffron party denied they were its workers.
On the night of April 16, three Mumbai residents, who were on their way to Silvassa, were lynched by local residents in Gadakchinchale village of Palghar district on the suspicion that they were thieves. A large mob of villagers had surrounded the car of the three men and started attacking them with sticks and iron rods, leading to their deaths. Two of the victims were reportedly local religious leaders from Kandivali suburb in Mumbai, and the third was their driver.
Over 100 people have been booked for the murders. The Crime Investigation Department of the Maharashtra Police on Wednesday took over the investigation into the case.
Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant claimed at a press conference on Thursday that Ishwar Nikule and Bhau Sathe, listed as accused number 61 and 65, are booth-level office-bearers of the BJP’s Dahanu mandal unit in Palghar district.
Sawant said that Nikule could be identified on the Facebook page of the BJP’s Dahanu mandal. Sathe is also one of the booth-level office-bearers of Gadchincle village, Sawant claimed. He said several photographs, including one featuring Nikule, were taken during a programme organised by the BJP to highlight the achievements of the former Devendra Fadnavis government.
“The BJP should expel these people from the party if it is really serious about sadhus being lynched,” Sawant said, according to The Indian Express. “Over the past few days, it has been trying to communalise the matter instead.”
Sawant demanded that the Centre introduce a new law against mob lynchings, as recommended by the Supreme Court. “Two years have passed since this order,” Sawant said. “Why has the BJP not come up with a law? Its fight against mob lynching is fake.”
State BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye rejected the allegations, PTI reported. “The two persons mentioned by the Congress are not BJP workers,” he said. “The photographs are of a public programme attended by many villagers.”