The Maharashtra government has sacked three policemen who were suspended for not taking proper steps to stop a mob from lynching three persons in Palghar district of the state on April 16, the Hindustan Times reported on Monday. The Maharashtra government had suspended five policemen following the incident, and transferred 35 personnel.

The three police personnel are Assistant Police Inspector Anandrao Kale, Assistant Sub Inspector Ravi Salunkhe and constable Naresh Dhodi, said Palghar Police Spokesperson Sachin Navadkar. Salunkhe and Dhodi have been compulsorily retired while Kale has been dismissed from service, Navadkar said. “The inspector general of police [Konkan range] dismissed the trio from service through an order issued on Saturday,” a police officer said, according to PTI.

The Maharashtra Police have arrested as many as 154 people and detained 11 minors in connection with the lynching. The accused in the case have been charged with murder, armed rioting and using criminal force to prevent a public servant from doing his or her duty. The case has been transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department. The department has so far filed three chargesheets in the case.

The incident and the case so far

On 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 sadhus from Mumbai’s Kandivali suburb, and the third was their driver.

On August 6, the Supreme Court asked the Maharashtra government to produce the chargesheets filed so far in the case within three weeks. A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy said they want to examine the chargesheet and file an affidavit about the action taken against the policemen allegedly involved in the incident. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said media reports suggest that the chargesheet is over 10,000 pages.

The court was hearing petitions filed by sadhus of “Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhara’’ and relatives of the deceased priests. Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, appearing for the petitioners, demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation into the case. Their petitions alleged the investigation by the state police was being conducted in a biased manner.

Another application was filed by advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay, calling for a National Investigation Agency-monitored probe into the matter.

Besides sections of the Indian Penal Code, the accused in the case were charged under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act as the incident took place during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.