Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray on Monday condemned the Palghar lynching during his daily address to the state and said that the main accused had been jailed.
“The five main accused are in jail now. I want to tell those who are trying to spread fire, please don’t to it. It was not a Hindu-Muslim issue. It was caused by some confusion and we are not going to spare any accused irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Nobody should try to give it religious colour,” he said.
Thackeray also said he had spoken to the union home minister Amit Shah on the matter and told him that “we are going to hunt down the people spreading hate on social media.”
Palghar Police on Sunday night said that 110 people had been arrested in connection with the mob lynching of three people in the Maharashtra district. Nine of the arrested are juveniles, they said.
Thackeray said that culprits involved in the lynching “will be brought to justice in the strongest way possible.”
The incident occurred when three men from Kandivali in Mumbai were headed towards Surat in a car to attend a funeral on Thursday night.
Their vehicle was stopped in Palghar district and the three were dragged out of their car and beaten to death on suspicion that they were thieves.
Police told The Wire that the accused are all local adivasis from Dahanu taluka in Palghar.
The mob also tried to attack police teams that entered the village, The Hindu reported. The police fired two rounds in the air to quell them.
The three men attacked were taken to a hospital where they were declared brought dead, police told Times of India.
The deceased were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushilgiri Maharaj (35), and their car driver Nilesh Telgade (30).
Kalpavrukshagiri and Sushilgiri belonged to a Gosavi Nomadic Tribe and were affiliated to ‘Shri Panch Dashnam Juna Akhaara’ in Varanasi, The Wire said.
On Sunday night and through Monday, right-wing groups and ABVP workers tweeted with #JusticeforHinduSadhus on Twitter. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra shared a purported video of the incident and used it to attack the NCP and CPI(M).
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh announced a high-level inquiry into the deaths on Sunday.
Deshmukh also warned against giving any communal colour to the incident, as two of the three deceased were believed to be seers.
In a tweet issued from his handle @AnilDeshmukhNCP, the home minister said, “Police have detained 101 people involved into the killing of three Surat bound people in Palghar. I have also ordered high level inquiry into this killings”.
Deshmukh further said that the police are keeping a close eye on those who wanted to use this incident to create a rift in the society.
“Those who attacked and who died in the Palghar mob killings are not from different religions. I have ordered Maharashtra police and @MahaCyber1 to take action against anyone instigating communal hatred in the society or on social media,” Deshmukh said in another tweet.
He ended his post with the hashtag #LawAndOrderAboveAll.
(With inputs from Pavan Dahat)