Updated: Jul 29, 2020

[Authored by Sudhanva Siddhant Holla, a 4th year BBA LL.B (Hons.) student at School of Law, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore.]

The Palghar Mob Lynching case is one of the more recent cases relating to mob lynching to occur in India. Basically, the Palghar incident took place on the evening of 16th April, 2020 in the village of Gadakchinchale in Palghar district wherein two hindu sadhus and their driver were beaten to death by a large mob. The reason provided or as far as released state that the two hindu sadhus and the driver were beaten up and killed on the suspicion of them being thieves and holding a direct connection towards child-kidnapping and being organ harvesters.[1]

Although the entire situation and the events that occurred post the lynching navigates the case into a serious doubt of suspicion. In an overview, the two sadhus, namely, Mahant Kalpavruksha Giri aged about 70 years and Sushilgiri Maharaj aged about 35 years were travelling to attend a funeral and had stopped in Gadakchinchale Village in Palghar District. As of now, based on various reports provided by the police, the mob attacked the two sadhus on the mere suspicion of child-kidnapping and organ harvesting. However, in the videos that have surfaced online that displays the brutal act, the frames from the video show a slightly different scenario;

In one of the videos that have surfaced, wherein the 70 year old Mahant Kalpavruksha Giri was brutally murdered, it is seen that the sadhu was being escorted by a police official when the mob snatched him away and initiated in the violent act[2]. This raises concerns on the duty of the police officer during the entire scenario. Primarily, it shows that the sadhus were under the protection of the police when the event occurred, therefore, the apparent suspicion of the mob regarding the character of the sadhus stands ineffective. Secondarily, the police’s inaction during the act raises concern towards the position of the police in this case. The police being a guardian of the society have utterly failed to keep peace and sustain control in the area. Further, the failure of the police to intervene in the entire incident although they hold higher power than the mob with respect to arms puts a tag of grave incompetence in the authority that should have taken action.

The incidents that have taken place in the state after the eve of 16th April further draws attention in this case being a conspiracy rather than a mere mistake of fact by the offenders. In Maharashtra, in investigation into the case was kicked off and after the completion of 3 weeks from the date of the incident, the Superintendent of Police handling the case was ordered into a forced leave.[3] It was reported that the leave came into effect after the Superintendent of Police met with the local politicians and the MLAs of the district. The reason for ordering such a forced leave has not been disclosed in any manner. This raises a further concern regarding the honesty in this matter and the truth that is trying to be hidden. Further, the Superintendent of Police has not even made any public statement regarding the leave. It has been made apparent later that the subordinate of the SP has taken over the investigation of the case. Further, after initial investigation, the police apprehended and arrested more than 160 citizens connected to the Palghar Lynching incident in which 9 members are minors, this also includes a number of tribal citizens from the district.[4]

When the incident initially broke out in the country, the nation expected or rather termed it to be a communal issue wherein the Sadhus were intentionally murdered by the Mob. However, after the arrests were made, the Home minister of Maharashtra, Mr Anil Deshmukh released a list of the members involved in the lynching. The list contained the names of the members and the Home minister stated that the list does not contain any muslim name an requested the citizens to not create a communal issue out of the incident.[5] This might sort some amount of relief to the country considering the current disparities the country is facing with respect to communal violence. Although, there is some amount of uncertainty in the list that was released, as the list shared by the Home minister does not provide with clarity regarding the details of the offenders. The details of the members involved have been kept hidden owing to police investigation. In the overview into the situation, after the sudden forced leave of the SP on the command of the ministers and the subsequent release of the list with the only request of not initiating a communal conflict does hold against the sympathisers of the right wing.

This case further takes an acute turn when the case was brought before the local court in the state. The case was being held in the local court in Dahanu located in the Palghar district. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu group had hired Mr Digvijay Trivedi to represent the two Sadhus against the offenders. The hearing was dated on May 13th 2020, however, when the lawyer, namely, Mr Digvijay Trivedi and his colleague Ms Preeti Trivedi were travelling to the court to argue the case, their car met with an accident on the road that resulted in the death of the lead lawyer Mr Digvijay Trivedi.[6]This sparks further controversy into this incident taking a political curve. The police in the accident ruled out any kind of foul play that could have been involved, although there has been no account of any eye witness that could reiterate the situation. The police further pass it off as a common road accident and do not propose for a special investigation into the matter even though there seems to be direct connivance involved.

Although, it is the wish of every citizen to abolish communal differences and aggressions in the country, there exist concerns that would rarely cease to exist. The country has been in turmoil regarding the political parties that run in this country. There are major allegations regarding parties being sympathetic to particular religions and thus also using these religions to promote violence in states. This method of creating conflict results in the breakdown of the secular system of the country and thus results in aggravated instances of differences between citizens. The Palghar lynching incident is one of the most cruel and publicly diminishing acts to take place in this country, and the further response of the state in handling the issue wherein the incompetence and dishonesty of the authorities have led to a lack of information. And thus in politicising the same in the country has led to foul play in the hearts and minds of the citizens of the country rather than a feeling of fulfilment that one should hold. A shameful act covered up by authorities that do not wish to take up responsibility has only led to anger and dissatisfaction in the rest of the country only to question the direction of the country’s growth.

[1] Zeeshan Sahikh, Palghar lynching: A recap of what happened, The Indian Express, (May 21, 2020), https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/palghar-mob-lynching-mahant-kalpavruksha-giri-6370528/ [2] Palghar lynching case, The Times of India, (May 1, 2020), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/city/mumbai/palghar-lynching-case-five-accused-sent-to-cid-custody-till-may-13/videoshow/75490309.cms [3] Mohammed Thaver, Three weeks after Palghar lynching, SP sent on forcedleave, The Indian Express, (May 21, 2020), https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/three-weeks-after-palghar-lynching-sp-sent-on-forced-leave-6399088/ [4] Sandhya Nair, Palghar lynching: More than 160 arrested, The Times of India, (May 19, 2020), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/palghar-lynching-more-than-160-arrested/articleshow/75828916.cms [5] Palghar mob lynching: Anil Deshmukh releases list of 101 people, Pune Mirror, (April 22, 2020), https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/others/palghar-mob-lynching-anil-deshmukh-releases-list-of-101-people-arrested/articleshow/75288323.cms [6] Palghar lynching case: Lawyer appearing for sadhus dies in road accident, police rule out foul play, Scroll.in, (May 21, 2020), https://scroll.in/latest/962031/palghar-lynching-case-lawyer-appearing-for-sadhus-dies-in-road-accident-police-rule-out-foul-play

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