Amravati violence: Maharashtra Govt. conducting ‘one-sided probe’, says Devendra Fadnavis

Former Chief Minister says Govt. is targeting only BJP and other Hindutva outfits

Accusing the Maharashtra Government of conducting a ‘one-sided investigation’ into the recent rioting that erupted in Amravati and elsewhere in the State, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that only those with an affinity to Hindutva outfits were being ‘unjustly targeted’ by the State police.

Speaking in Amravati on Sunday, Mr. Fadnavis alleged that the ruling tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi government (of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress) was ‘deleting’ the events of November 12 – when violence erupted during a bandh called by minority outfits – and instead highlighting what happened on November 13, when more rioting broke out during the shutdown called by the BJP.

“The State’s police are bowing to political pressure. While it is obvious that the events of November 12 occurred with the aim of creating social discord, a one-sided investigation is currently under way wherein BJP leaders and workers are being arrested and are being physically assaulted. FIRs are being lodged about the same incident in four police stations… even those people who were not present are getting arrested,” alleged Mr. Fadnavis, who is the BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.

Speaking after visiting the afflicted areas in the district, the BJP leader questioned the silence of the ruling MVA leadership on those who had called the rallies on November 12 in the first place, while alleging that the police were cracking down on some outfits simply owing to their political ideology.

“We have heard of police making lists of those attending an Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad [ABVP] conference in the district regardless of whether the attendees were present on the scene of rioting… While the BJP wishes peace to be maintained and is ready to help the Government in its probe, if the latter is bent on arresting our leaders on false charges, then we will do a ‘jail bharo andolan, ’” Mr. Fadnavis said, adding that he would be meeting State Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil on the issue.

Several BJP leaders, including ex-Ministers Anil Bonde and Pravin Pote, along with the Aurangabad Mayor were briefly arrested last week for having organised the shutdown on November 13 which was marked by violence.

Conspiracy alleged

Stating that the BJP’s shutdown on November 13 was “a reaction” to the violence and vandalism that erupted on November 12, the BJP leader remarked that the manner in which all rallies were called in Maharashtra’s cities (on November 12) based on fake social media posts proved that the disturbances which broke out in Amravati and other places were “a pre-planned conspiracy”.

“These were pre-planned rallies in Amravati, Nanded and Malegaon and not some ad hoc event… fake narratives were prepared on social media concerning incidents [of alleged desecration of mosques] that never occurred in Tripura…Some of the posts were of a city in Pakistan, some pictures were of Rohingyas and one of a Delhi camp where a fire had broken out… How can such big rallies be held all at once in big cities in the State? Who planned them? What was the aim behind them? Were they held to spark lawlessness, riots and communal discord? It is imperative to get to the root of this conspiracy first,” Mr. Fadnavis said.

On November 12, violence had erupted out in at least three cities in the State — Amravati, Malegaon (in Nashik district) and Nanded — after some minority organisations, including the Raza Academy, called for a day-long shutdown to protest against incidents of mosques being allegedly vandalised in Tripura.

‘Counter bandh’

A “counter bandh” was called by the BJP in Amravati as a challenge to the one called by minority groups on November 13. According to authorities, hundreds of people from the Bajrang Dal and other Sangh-affiliated outfits, holding saffron flags in their hands and raising slogans, had come out on the streets, which resulted in violence and serious damage to property.

“Once the rallies of November 12 ended, violence and vandalism broke out and shops of one community were destroyed. Hence a reaction came on 13. The BJP could not sit quiet when it saw shops belonging to people of one community [Hindu] were being targeted and members of that community being allegedly assaulted…However, we do not condone violence [during BJP’s bandh on November 13] in any form. But it must be stressed that one cannot place what happened on November 13 in its proper context without first probing why the events of the previous day happened at all,” he said, calling for investigations to establish whether the rallies called on November 12 had official permission and on what grounds they were granted.

The Amravati police authorities have thus far arrested nearly 300 persons and have lodged more than 50 FIRs in connection with the events of November 12-13. A relaxation in day-time curfew rules came into effect since Saturday.

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