The impasse over the ugly cop-MLA altercation that brought proceedings of the Maharashtra Legislature to a grinding halt for three consecutive days was finally broken on Monday, with the State government caving in to Opposition pressure and announcing the suspension of Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryawanshi.
Earlier last week, Mr. Suryawanshi was viciously assaulted by a group of Maharashtra legislators led by Kshitij Thakur (Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi) and Ram Kadam (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) within the Assembly complex on grounds that the cop had allegedly “provoked” Mr. Thakur while he was seated in the visitor’s gallery of the Assembly. Five legislators, including Mr. Thakur and Mr. Kadam, were consequently suspended for the remainder of the year in connection with the incident.
Both Houses of the Legislature witnessed several adjournments as a strident Opposition started clamouring for the suspensions of Mr. Suryawanshi, as well as that of the two Crime Branch officers, who, they alleged, had violated Assembly Law by entering premises without requisite admission papers in order to nab the offending legislators.
The MLAs also demanded that the suspensions of the legislators be revoked.
Mr. Suryawanshi had ticked off Mr. Thakur, who had exceeded the speed limit on the Bandra-Worli sea link, following which there ensued an exchange of words between the two. Mr. Thakur had alleged that Mr. Suryawanshi had ‘misbehaved’ with him even after he had paid up the fine and had moved a privilege motion against him.
Speaking in the Assembly in the evening, Home Minister R.R. Patil announced Mr. Suryawanshi’s suspension, stating that the cop had “used foul language against the legislator.”
Mr. Patil said that he had come to the decision after seeing the footage of the Bandra-Worli sea link incident and found that “Suryawanshi’s language was not becoming [to] that of a police officer.”
Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil has also announced the constitution of an ‘Inquiry Committee’ of legislators under senior Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Ganpatrao Deshmukh to probe into the events.
Following Mr. Suryawanshi’s merciless beating at the hands of the MLAs, the incident had blown into a full-scale war between legislators, the police and the media, with pressing issues being jettisoned in the Legislature, as a result of the MLAs’ insistent demands of suspensions of Mr. Suryawanshi and the Crime Branch officials.
Earlier in the day, a local court granted bail to Mr. Kadam and Mr. Thakur on a surety of Rs.15, 000 each, while directing them to appear before the Crime Branch office every Wednesday till the investigation was completed.
Two MLAs released on bail
Two Maharashtra MLAs, who were arrested for assaulting a police officer on the Assembly premises, were released on bail on Monday by a court here.
Ram Kadam of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Kshitij Thakur of Bahujan Vikas Aaghadi (BVA) surrendered to the Crime Branch on Thursday for beating sub-inspector Sachin Suryavanshi on Tuesday last week. Both MLAs, along with three others, have been suspended from the Assembly till December 31.
The MLAs moved an bail application on Friday after the police authorities sought their custody, claiming that Mr. Suryavanshi was still admitted in hospital and not in a position to identify the accused. Both were kept at the Arthur Road jail for three days.
On Monday, the magistrate court granted bail to the MLAs on a surety of Rs. 15,000 each and directed them to appear before the Crime Branch on every Wednesday between 11.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. till the completion of the investigation.
“The judge, while granting bail, has observed that further custody of both MLAs is not required for the investigation,” said Vikrant Sabane, lawyer for Mr. Thakur.