BJP Leader Alleges Sharad Pawar Behind Violent Maratha Protests, SIT Probe Ordered

Mumbai: Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar on Tuesday directed SIT probe into the Maratha reservation movement headed by Manoj Jarange-Patil. The inquiry was ordered after BJP leader Ashish Shelar alleged that there was a conspiracy to create communal tensions in Maharashtra in the guise of Jarange’s quota agitation and that needs to be investigated.

Mr. Shelar did not take any names. However, in the legislative council, BJP leader Pravind Darekar alleged that Jarange held meetings at a factory owned by NCP legislator Rajesh Tope, where Jarange’s supporters were told to pelt stones on the police. Quoting former Jarange supporters, he also alleged that Sharad Pawar funded the entire agitation.

Citing the claims made by one of Jarange’s former associates, Mr. Darekar alleged that the NCP founder was behind the conspiracy to create unrest in the state and Jarange was doing everything told to him by the veteran politician. He further claimed that the conspiracy to orchestrate stone pelting during Jarange’s hunger strike last year was hatched in a meeting held at a factory owned by Mr. Tope.

“This conspiracy behind stone-pelting took place at Rajesh Tope’s factory. Rohit Pawar was also there along with Rajesh Tope. All these should be investigated by the SIT. Sangeeta Wankhede has said that Jarange was receiving calls from only one number and that number belonged to Sharad Pawar,” Mr. Darekar said.

The BJP legislator’s allegations were opposed by the Shiv Sena UBT and NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) members, which led to a commotion in the house and deputy chairman Neelam Gorhe had to adjourn the House for 10 minutes. However, the ruckus continued even after the adjournment.

Replying to Mr.Darekar, chief minister Eknath Shinde informed that a SIT probe has already been ordered and anybody trying to foment tensions and instigating violence will not be spared.

Earlier in the legislative assembly, Mr. Shelar said that Jarange in his statement on Monday claimed that Maharashtra would have been destroyed, but he saved the state. “Who was trying to destroy Maharashtra? We suspect that there was a conspiracy to orchestrate something horrible in the state. A special investigation team should investigate this,” he demanded.

Mr. Shelar also alleged that a member of the legislative assembly was actively helping Jarange to create unrest in the state and his agitation was sponsored by a political party.

After the BJP members insisted for the investigation, Speaker Rahul Narwekar directed the government to form an SIT to conduct “thorough investigation”. Responding to the Speaker’s directive, Mr. Fadnavis said, “The SIT probe will be conducted. I did not want to speak on the issue. But since it has been brought in the House, I want to bring certain facts on record. This House knows the work I did for the Maratha community. I do not need anyone’s certificate for that. But those who take the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, should not speak about someone’s mother and wife. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj did not insult even enemy’s mother or daughter.”

The BJP has taken the aggressive stand after Jarange accused Mr. Fadnavis of wanting to kill him, used abusive language while referring to the BJP leader and even threatened to disrupt Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s functions in Maharashtra.

The Maratha quota activist is now on backfoot after the state government took aggressive stand registered cases against him and his supporters. In the past few days, at least of Jarange’s associates have levelled allegations against the activist. Abhay Baraskar alleged that Jarange was a liar and was only interested in self-promotion. He also alleged that Jarange used to hold “secret meetings”. He was followed by Sangeeta Wankhede, who alleged that Jarange was working at the behest of Sharad Pawar, who funded entire movement. Later, Jaragne’s associate for 18 years, Baburao Walekar, claimed that Jarange had instigated his followers in the past to indulge in violence though keeping himself away from such acts. The activist was upset with these allegations and alleged that Mr. Fadnavis was trying to defame him.

A petition was filed in the Bombay High Court on Monday against the violence during the protests held on the calls given by Jarange. While hearing the petition, the division of Justice Ajay Gadkari and Justice Shyam Chandak said that the government should not remain a mute spectator when such violence takes place.

Jarange said that he is not worried about any investigation and his image cannot be tainted. “If the BJP want to return to power, they have to trap me in something. I have nobody’s political backing or financial support. My caste is my idol. It does not matter what inquiry is conducted, I will remain untainted,” the activist said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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