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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Lawyer representing murdered Palghar sadhus dies in car accident; CBI probe demands grow louder

Digvijay Trivedi, a lawyer representing the murdered sadhus in the Palghar mob lynching case died on Wednesday morning after his car turned turtle on the the Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway while he was travelling with a female colleague Preeti Trivedi to the Dahanu court.

Earlier, a BJP sarpanch who helped identify some of the accused in the mob lynching case had received death threats. Journalists covering the Palghar case have also received threats.

Digvijay was killed on the spot and Preeti is in critical condition in Kasa government hospital. Kasa Police have registered an ‘accidental death’ report.

Incidentally, the Palghar lynching also took place in the jurisdiction of the Kasa police. Over a dozen policemen were present when the 2 sadhus and their driver were lynched, and shocking video footage showed elderly sadhu Kalpavriksha Giri Maharaj being surrendered to the mob by a policeman. Later, 5 cops were suspended and 35 shunted from Kasa police station for their inaction and failure to handle the lynching incident. Palghar Superintendent of police has also been sent on leave.

The Palghar lynching case is now being investigated by Maharashtra CID. A total of 133 people, including 9 minors, have been arrested thus far in the case.

Digvijay Trivedi was on his way to the Dahanu Court to join Advocate PN Ojha, the lawyer representing the deceased sadhus in official capacity.

“I cannot say anything regarding the accident, whether there was any foul play or not. He was a junior lawyer and wanted to learn. So, I had allowed him to join me in this case. We will have to wait for the inspection report from the RTO to know the exact cause of the accident. There was no one present at the spot when the accident happened so the RTO inspection report can give a clear idea on what actually happened,” Ojha told India Today.

BJP spokespersons have alleged that investigations in the Palghar case are not proceeding satisfactorily and that Trivedi’s death could be premeditated murder. The death of the lawyer in the same general area where the lynching of the sadhus took place has again strengthened demands to hand over the case to a central agency like CBI or NIA.

Several eyewitnesses have testified that the mob which lynched the two sadhus and their driver on 16th April was energised when an NCP leader and  Palghar Zilla Parishad member Kashinath Chaudhary arrived at the scene with chants of ‘Dada aala’ (big brother is here) going up. Three CPM leaders Vishnu Paatra, Subhash Bhavar, and Dharma Bhavar were also seen at the spot when the lynching took place. CPI(M) leader Vinod Nikhole is the MLA of Dahanu, the assembly constituency in which the area falls.

Palghar and adjoining areas are a hotbed of missionary and communist activity, with organisations like Kashtakari Sangathana, founded by Jesuit priest Peter D’Mello (aka Pradip ‘Deshbhakt’ Prabhu), marrying missionary and leftist ideology to turn the tribals against both the government and Hindus. Ground reports have revealed how Christian missionaries and left-wing groups are virulently opposed to any Hindu religious outfit which tries to work in the area.

Sarpanch of Gadchinchale village, from where many of the accused had gathered, Chitra Chaudhary, from the BJP tried her best to pacify the crowd, but to no avail. She is now facing death threats from relatives of the accused for ‘colluding with the police’.

Kashinath Chaudhary was summoned by CID to record his statement about his role in the incident. However, Kasa police maintain Kashinath was taken to the spot by the police in order to ‘control’ the rampaging mob.

Republic TV‘s Arnab Goswami was first attacked by Youth Congress workers and then grilled for over 12 hours by Mumbai police for raising questions about Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s silence over the brutal lynching in a a Congress-ruled state. Other executives of the news channel have also been questioned in a clear attempt to muzzle the press. Journalist Deepak Chaurasia of News Nation has also been receiving threats for doing shows on the Palghar Sadhu lynching. And now a lawyer representing the murdered ascetics has died in an apparent ‘road accident’.

One cannot expect the Maharashtra CID or police to carry out a free and impartial probe in such a vitiated atmosphere, where the needle of suspicion is pointing towards representatives of the ruling alliance and their ideological partners. The Palghar probe must be handed over to the CBI.

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