Police in Maharashtra’s Palghar district averted potential mob violence against two ‘sadhus’ (ascetics) in a village after the residents mistook them as child lifters, nearly three years after three persons were lynched in the district over similar suspicion, an official said on Tuesday.
Palghar Rural Superintendent of Police Balasaheb Patil said two men were spotted at Chandranagar village, within the limits of Vangaon police station, around 11.30 am on Sunday. A crowd gathered in no time after some villagers suspected the duo to be child lifters, said the official..
Fearing that the crowd might become aggressive, one of the villagers alerted the police ensuring timely intervention, he said..
The official said police rushed to the spot, pacified the villagers and took the two sadhus, one in a saffron robe and another in white, to the police station. The duo said they were from Yavatmal district and went from village to village to seek alms.
Police said the tension was diffused on time due to their ‘Jan Samvad’ initiative that they had launched after the lynching at Gadchinchale village in the district in April 2020.
Under the initiative, policemen visit villages and interact with the locals to build trust and improve coordination, the official said.
“We have also deployed a policeman in each of the villages who interacts with the locals and solves a lot of their problems on the spot. Some matters are referred to the higher-up,” said the official.
“It was due to our Jan Samvad initiative, we were alerted on time and the unpleasant situation was averted. We do not want a repetition of the Gadchinchale incident,” he added.
Three persons from Kandivali in Mumbai were travelling in a car to attend a funeral in Surat in Gujarat amid the COVID-19-induced nationwide lockdown when their vehicle was stopped and they were attacked and killed allegedly by a mob in Gadchinchale village on the night of April 16, 2020, in the presence of police.
The victims were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, 70, Sushil Giri Maharaj, 35, and Nilesh Telgade, 30, who was driving the vehicle.
The state government recently approached the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe into the lynching.