Maharashtra’s Nirbhaya: Opposition ruckus, protests across state

Mumbai, July 18 (IANS) Amid uproarious scenes in the Maharashtra assembly, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday made a detailed statement on the gang-rape and murder of a schoolgirl which evoked memories of the abhoring 2012 Nirbhaya case of Delhi.

While the government rejected an adjournment motion sought to be moved by the opposition in the assembly, protests were held in several parts of Maharashtra condemning the incident which occurred on July 13 in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district.

Fadnavis made a detailed statement in the assembly, announcing that Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam would lead the trial and assured stringent action against the accused persons.

He also announced an aid of Rs 5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and another Rs 3 lakh under the Manodhairya Scheme, besides allocating the case to a fast track court.

Senior Congress leaders demanded a debate in the state legislative council, while senior Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar sought a debate in the assembly. But the demands were rejected by the government, which said a discussion could be held on Tuesday.

“Compared to all such incidents, this case is very different and akin to the Nirbhaya case of Delhi. The manner in which the schoolgirl was gang-raped and her body parts brutalised makes us shudder and shameful. Leave aside politics and give justice to her as if she was our daughter,” Pawar appealed to Fadnavis.

Leader of Opposition in the Council Dhananjay Munde said there is outrage in the minds of the people over the incident, but the government does not appear serious enough to address it.

“The Chief Minister and guardian minister have no time. The Chief Minister is merely interested in protecting his colleagues and attempts are being to cover up the incident. Now young girls dread of going to their schools,” Munde said.

On Sunday, the opposition parties launched their agitation when they boycotted Fadnavis’s customary assembly session-eve tea party.

Earlier on Monday, Maharashtra State Commission for Women Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar visited the victim’s family and offered all help to them.

On Sunday, Bhumata Brigade President Trupti Desai and other women’s groups also met the family and demanded resignation of the Chief Minister and Guardian Minister Ram Shinde for lapses leading to the crime.

Protests, road blocks, shutdowns and processions were held in Kopargaon, Ahmednagar, Beed, Osmanabad, Pune and other parts of the state to condemn the crime.

On July 13 in Kopardi the family of the 14-year-old schoolgirl found her badly mutilated, blood-splattered body under a tree in a field.

She was gang-raped by at least three persons, her teeth and arms were broken and she was strangulated.

The incident has sparked off a major political storm in Maharashtra with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government.

Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tripathi said three persons have been arrested.

Tripathi said those arrested are Jitendra alias Pappu B. Shinde, Nitin G. Bhailume and Santosh G. Bhaval. Police is on the lookout for at least two others who may be involved.

The accused were presented before a local court and remanded in police custody for seven days.

Activists of various parties and groups including Sambhaji Brigade, Maratha Seva Sangh and Jijao Brigade had converged on Sunday at the village square, raised slogans against the government and demanded action against the alleged rapists and those who sheltered them.

The protesters raised slogans against Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar when he visited Kopardi village on Sunday and threw eggs at him.

–IANS

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