A public interest litigation has been filed before the Bombay High Court seeking transfer of investigation in the palghar mob lynching case to Central Bureau of Investigation or in the alternative, directions to constitute a Special Investigation team to probe the case.
The petitioner, Alakh Alok Shrivastava is an advocate at the Supreme Court of India. He has contended that video clips of the incident which led to the death of two sadhus show that the mob was attacking them with sticks and rods. While the police personnel present at the spot did not do anything to stop the mob, instead one officer pushed one of the sadhus towards the mob, the petitioner alleges.
According to the petition which relies on news reports, on April 16, Ramgiri Maharaj, a Hindu spiritual guru passed away in Surat, Gujarat. To attend his last rites, two Sadhus, namely Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) and Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri (70) along with their driver Nilesh Telgane (35) started travelling from Kandivali in Mumbai to Surat, Gujarat on April 16 itself.
They were reportedly stopped from taking the National Highway due to the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown and hence they took a detour. While their vehicle reached near village Gadchinchle in Palghar district, Maharashtra, they were reportedly taken into custody by the Palghar Police and kept in the police van.
However, at that time, a large mob reportedly stopped their vehicle and dragged the saffron-clad sadhus out. Thereafter, the unruly mob, armed with sticks and rods, brutally attacked the two Sadhus and their driver and killed all three of them in an extremely barbaric manner.
The PIL states-
"Various video clips of the said incident later on surfaced in social as well as electronic media showing that the police didn't even try to help the abovenamed deceased persons. When sticks and rods were rained on the elderly sadhu Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri, he clung to a uniformed cop for help. But the officer shrugged him allowing the mob to do what it was doing. In one video, Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri begged the mob to spare him but his cries didn't move them."
So far a total of 101 people have been arrested and nine minors have been detained in relation to the said incident. While two police officers present at the spot have been suspended, the investigation has been handed to State CID.
However, the petitioner argues that there are serious allegations against the police personnel themselves as to why they allow such a large gathering of people despite the ongoing lockdown and why they did not try to protect the aforesaid deceased persons from this unruly mob.
"There are allegations that one of the police personnel pushed the elderly Sadhu to the violent mob, instead of saving him, which led to his brutal lynching. In various videos of the incident, surfacing on social media and electronic media, presence of a number of police personnel can be seen at the said place at the time of incident, however, no police personnel is seen taking any step in protecting the said deceased persons", the PIL contends.
Thus, the petitioner seeks Rs. 1 crore in compensation for the driver who was also lynched along with the sadhus. Petitioner explains that since Sushil Giri Maharaj and Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri had renounced their worldly desires, at least the driver should be paid compensation in the interest of justice.
Moreover, the PIL seeks transfer of investigation to the CBI or in the alternative to a Special Investigation Team constituted on the orders of the Court. Then, directions to conduct the trial in a fast track court in a time-bound manner.
Stringent disciplinary action as well as penal action under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) by way of registration of FIR, is sought against the concerned policemen, whose acts and omissions allegedly led to the brutal lynching incident.
Click here to download the Petition