Palghar (Maharashtra), Jan. Jan 16 | A Thane Special Court on Saturday granted bail to 89 accused in the April 2020 Palghar lynching case of two sadhus and their driver, a lawyer said here.
After hearing the arguments by Special Public Prosecutor Satish Maneshinde and defense counsels, Amrut Adhikari and Atul Patil on Jan. 6, the Special Judge S. B. Bahalkar allowed bail of Rs.15,000 each to the 89 accused.
Till date, the state CID has arrested 251 adults and 16 juveniles on various charges of rioting, attempt to murder, murder, etc for the lynching incident that sparked nationwide outrage on April 16 last year, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
Till date, a total of 176 adults and 11 juveniles have been enlarged on bail while the bail applications of 36 more were rejected.
Arguing for bail last week, Adv. Adhikari contended that although the 89 accused were present at the scene of the crime, they had no role in the lynching tragedy.
On the fateful night of April 16 last year, two Sadhus – Kalpavrikshagiri Maharaj, 70, and his assistant Sushilgiri Maharaj, 35, besides their driver Nilesh Telgade, 30, were were proceeding from Kandivali suburb of Mumbai to attend a funeral in Surat, Gujarat.
Late that night, mistaking them to be kidnappers or human organ smugglers, a large mob of villagers and tribals stopped their vehicle near the Gadchinchale village.
The trio was dragged out of the vehicle and the huge crowd pounced on them with stones, sticks, rods, despite a handful of policemen who could not control the mob-rage as they were not armed.
After a massive furore, the case was transferred from the Palghar Police to the State CID which arrested the accused hailing from the nearby villages of Gadchinchale, Divshi, Udhna, Sukad, Ambad and also from other villages in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, which is barely 500 metres from the lynching site.
All the accused were booked under various provisions of Indian Penal Code, Public Property Damage Act, Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, while the juveniles were charged under the juvenile laws, and later the agency filed three separate chargesheets in the case.