Palghar CID Chargesheet: Child-lifting rumours led to lynching
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has filed two chargesheets of 4,955 and 5,921 pages in the Palghar lynching case. It says the lynching was the fallout of rumours that child-lifting gangs were operating in the area whose members posed as seers or uniformed personnel like policemen.
The Maharashtra CID has filed the charge sheets in the Palghar lynching case in which two monks and their driver were beaten to death by a mob three months ago. As per an official, the CID in its charge sheet has said that the lynching was the fallout of rumours that child-lifting gangs were operating in the area whose members pose as seers or uniformed personnel like policemen.
The CID, on Wednesday, had filed two charge sheets – one running into 4,955 pages and another of 5,921 pages – in the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class at Dahanu Taluka in Palghar district.
Two monks and their driver were lynched by the mob at Gadchinchale village in the district on April 16 when they were travelling in a car to Surat (Gujarat) to attend a funeral amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The victims of the lynching incident were identified by the police as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushil Giri Maharaj (35) and their driver Nilesh Telgade (30).
"According to the charge sheet, a few days before the incident of lynching, rumours had spread in Gadchinchle village and the surrounding area about the child lifting gangs in operation," the official said on Thursday.
"This has come to light during the investigation and any other angle for the lynching of sadhus has been ruled out," he said.
According to the official, the CID also collected cyber evidence, including messages and posts about child-lifting gangs that were circulated on social media platforms in the area.
"These messages and posts said that the members of these gangs can come to the village by posing themselves as sadhus, doctors, officials of police, forest or other departments, wearing uniforms," he said.
The investigation was transferred to the state CID on April 21.
Three different offences have been registered in connection with the case at Kasa police station in Palghar.
Notably, of the 154 accused arrested and 11 juveniles detained in connection with the lynching, none have been released on bail so far.
A team led by Special IGP (West) CID, Pravin Salunke, carried out the investigation during the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.
Besides sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the accused were charged under relevant provisions of the Disaster Management Act, the Epidemic Diseases Act (since lockdown was in force during the incident), the Maharashtra Police Act and the Maharashtra Damage to Public Property (Prevention) Act, the release said.
They were charged with murder, armed rioting and using criminal force to prevent a public servant from doing his duty, among other offences.
The voluminous charge sheet is being scrutinised by court officials after which the charges will be framed against the accused, a CID official said.
The CID ream examined 808 suspects and 118 witnesses to collect strong evidence against the accused, he said.
"Although two different charge sheets have been filed in two separate offences, in the due course of time, the investigators are likely to merge the cases and the charge sheets with the permissions of higher courts for smooth investigation," the official said.