MUMBAI: The Congress in Maharashtra on Thursday alleged that two of the accused in the Palghar mob lynching case are members of the BJP and demanded that the saffron party take action against them.
The BJP, however, rejected the Congress claim and said the two persons mentioned by it are not members of the saffron party.
Addressing a press conference here, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said Ishwar Nikule and Bhau Sathe, listed as accused no 61 and 65, respectively, are office- bearers of the BJP's Dahanu mandal unit in Palghar district.
The BJP must take action against its office-bearers who are accused of killing two sadhus and their driver, and its government at the Centre should bring a law to curb mob attacks, said Sawant.
He said Nikule could be seen on the official Facebook page of the BJP Dahanu mandal as a booth-level office-bearer of Gadchincle village, where the three people were lynched by a violent mob on Thursday last on suspicion that they were child-lifters.
More than 100 people have been named accused in the case. Sathe is also one of the booth-level office-bearers of Gadchincle village, Sawant claimed.
Several pictures, including the one featuring Nikule, were taken during a programme organised by the BJP to highlights the achievements of the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government, he said.
Gadchincle sarpanchChitra Chaudhary can also be seen in one of the pictures, Sawant said, adding the BJP is ruling the village panchayat for the last 10 years.
Besides Chaudhary, local BJP mandal president Sangita Kotela and then chairperson of Dahanu Panchayat Samiti Rama Thackeray were present at the event, Sawant said.
He said the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, of which the Congress is a constituent, will bring all those involved in the lynching incident to book.
"But it is surprising that the BJP hasn't taken action against it's people accused of killing the sadhus," he said.
Sawant demanded that the Centre enact a law against mob lynchings as directed by the Supreme Court.
Despite direction from a Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, the central government has not enacted a law against mob lynchings in the last two years, the Congress spokesman said.
In July 2018, the Supreme Court had condemned incidents of mob lynching and directed the central government to enact a legislation against such heinous act, he said.
In addition, 11 guidelines were issued in this regard but the central government did not take any action on them, Sawant said.
Again in July 2019, a bench headed by thethen Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took note of mob lynching cases and sent a notice to the Centre asking what were the measures taken on previous directives, but the Modi government did nothing, Sawant charged.
"After the Palghar incident, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, but did not do anything to bring a law against incidents of mob lynching," he said.
Incidents of mob lynching have occurred in other states too, but no senior BJP leader at the time showed any such concern, Sawant said.
On the contrary, accused in some of these cases were later felicitated by BJP ministers, he claimed.
When contacted, state BJP spokesman Keshav Upadhye rejected the Congress allegations.
"The two persons mentioned by the Congress are not BJP workers. The photographs (released by the Congress) are of a public programme attended by many villagers," he said.