A magistrate’s court on Saturday sent 109 protesters, mostly striking employees of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), into custody until they were released on bail and their lawyer Gunaratna Sadavarte in custody for two days.
This comes a day after they were arrested by Gamdevi police for rioting outside the residence of NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Silver Oak in Mumbai.
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The day also saw DCP (Detection) Neelotpal being tasked full-time as Zone II DCP, under whose jurisdiction Silver Oak falls. Neelotpal replaced DCP (headquarters) Yogesh Kumar, who was in charge of Area II when Pawar’s residence was attacked.
Kumar was charged after Saurabh Tripathi, the former Zone II DCP, was suspended when he was named as a defendant in the angadia extortion case.
The police, in their remand request, requested custody of the accused. Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat argued they wanted to know who the mastermind behind the plot was. He added that during the riots, police officers were injured and some protesters were found drunk.
Police further said they wanted to know if Sadavarte was among those behind the plot. He alleged that Sadavarte on April 7 met with protesters at Azad Maidan and told them that they should demonstrate against Baramati outside Pawar’s residence on April 12 and not allow him to leave the house.
Sadavarte’s lawyer, Mahesh Vaswani, however, denied that his client made such a call. Vaswani argued in court that Sadavarte was pursuing lawsuits against the government of Maharashtra, which prompted him to wrongly implicate her. “He has raised his voice against the state government, including the Home Secretary, and therefore action is being taken against him,” he said, adding that the protesters were fighting for their rights. rights for five months but that no leader had come to help them.
Police also accused Sadavarte of allegedly delivering provocative speeches against Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders like Sanjay Raut, Nawab Malik and Anil Parab. Besides Sadavarte, at least four other arrested defendants – Hanumant Waghmare, Krishnat Kore, Tajuddin Shaikh and Govind Masarankar – are being questioned in connection with the conspiracy charge.
The lawyer told the court that Sadavarte had health problems and asked him to give him his medication. The request was accepted by the court. He also asked for the medical report of the police officers who were injured at the hands of the demonstrators.
The protesters’ lawyer, Sandeep Gaikwad, told the court: “The protesters are just workers. They don’t have a criminal mind. Please try to understand their problem.
Since last November, the employees have requested a merger with the state government so that they can enjoy the benefits of a government employee.
On Friday, Gamdevi police had registered an FIR against 132 people, mostly striking MSRTC employees, who allegedly tried to break into Silver Oak. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Vishwas Nangre Patil was tasked with investigating the failings of the police, who failed to anticipate and prevent the incident.
Police told the court that although they had information about the possibility of a protest being held outside Pawar’s residence and had also deployed security outside Silver Oak, protesters came in large numbers and ignored any warnings. They broke down barricades and manhandled personnel to reach Pawar’s residence, police said.
Meanwhile, Pawar met on Saturday with Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey. Walse-Patil told the media that further investigation was underway and action would be taken against other people once their role was revealed.
On Friday, Walse-Patil said Mumbai police should have had information about the motorcade heading towards Silver Oak and that an investigation would be carried out to find out if there had been an intelligence failure. Sources said more heads could roll if police negligence is found.
One official argued that large fees like Zone II DCP should not be charged extra. “It has been decided that FAD Neelotpal should be named Zone II FAD. Another officer will soon be appointed to take charge of the DCP (Detection),” the official added.