No Political Pressure on Cops, Says CM Shinde on Awhad’s Molestation Case; MLA’s Bail Hearing Today

There will be no political interference in the investigation against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jitendra Awhad, who has been booked for allegedly molesting a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, said Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said on Monday, adding that the probe will be done with transparency.

“The FIR was registered as per the complaint by the lady. Police will conduct the probe and will take necessary action. There will be transparency. There’s no political pressure on the police,” Shinde said according to news agency ANI.

Molestation Case Against Awhad

Police registered a case of molestation against Nationalist Congress Party MLA and former Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad on the complaint of a woman, prompting him to tender his resignation as MLA in view of “false” cases. He denied the charge.

Two days back, Awhad was released on bail in a case of disrupting the show of the Marathi movie “Har Har Mahadev” at a multiplex in Thane city.

In her complaint, the complainant alleged Awhad pushed her while making way for himself during the dispersal of the crowd after an event of the chief minister in Mumbra, as per the First Information Report (FIR).

Awhad is the MLA from the Mumbra-Kalwa seat in Thane district.

“Police lodged two fake complaints against me including on charges under IPC 354. I am deciding to resign as MLA. I will fight against such police atrocity against me. I cannot see the murder of democracy with my eyes,” Awhad tweeted on Monday.

He later told reporters that such charges would spoil someone’s family life.

Thane Court To Hear Awhad’s Anticipatory Bail Plea Today

After Mumbra police registered a case on Monday against Awhad under Indian Penal Code section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), he moved a court in Thane seeking pre-arrest bail.

Additional sessions court judge PM Gupta has kept the matter for hearing on Tuesday morning, an official said.

The court has directed the Thane city police not to arrest Awhad till his pre-arrest bail application is heard and disposed of.

The complainant alleged Awhad pushed her while making way for himself during the dispersal of the crowd after an event of chief minister Eknath Shinde in Mumbra, as per the First Information Report (FIR).

A senior police officer said on Monday night that a case was registered against the complainant woman under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Awhad Resigns From His Legislative Post

Awhad said he has tendered his resignation condemning “false cases” registered against him and addressed it to the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly.

Speaker Rahul Narvekar, however, told PTI that Awhad has not physically submitted his resignation letter to the Speaker’s office, which is required as per the rules of the House.

BJP Demands Awhad’s Suspension from BJP

As the controversy raged, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded NCP suspend Awhad from the party.

State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule also said that cases against Awhad, including the disruption of the screening of a Marathi movie in Thane, were based on CCTV footage and videos.

NCP Comes Out In Awhad’s Support

The NCP came out in support of Awhad, the former housing minister in the MVA government.

Senior leader Ajit Pawar said CM Shinde should come forward and explain that nothing of this sort had happened as he was present when the crowd was being dispersed after an event held in Mumbra in Thane district on Sunday evening.

“The chief minister should come forward and explain that nothing of this sort had happened there. Irrespective of how he became the chief minister, Shinde represents 13 crore people of the state, he said and added the attempt to put a people’s representative in trouble is an “act of cowardice”.

Awhad’s wife Ruta Awhad said, “the complainant woman is out on bail. And how come she realised after four hours that her modesty was outraged?”

Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil alleged Awhad has been targeted deliberately by the state government. “The complainant woman had met CM Shinde before the case was filed against Awhad,” claimed Patil who addressed a press conference with Awhad.

“He (Awhad) has tendered his resignation. We will discuss the issue with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and take a decision. Awhad is disturbed. He could fight any other allegations but certainly not the one invoked against him,” Patil added.

Video Of The Incident

Awhad stated he had merely asked a BJP woman party worker (the complainant) to move aside as he was moving away from the vehicle in which Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde was sitting.

The video footage of the incident shows Awhad speaking with CM Shinde and as he moved away from the vehicle, surrounded by people, the NCP leader asked a woman to move away using his hands and proceeded further.

“I told her why was she trying to approach in such a rush and crowded place. Please make way for me. However, I did not know what happened during midnight and the police invoked IPC 354 against me and a case was filed at the police station.

“The video footage of the entire incident is self-explanatory. Had the police seen the video, they would not have filed a complaint against me. I condemn false cases registered against me and tendering my resignation,” Awhad added.

As the word spread about Awhad tendering his resignation, many autorickshaws in his constituency stopped plying on roads.

A demonstration was held by Awhad’s supporters outside the police station. Some people placed burning tyres on a road while a rasta roko protest was held on the Mumbra bypass.

An additional police force has been deployed in Mumbra and the situation is under control, a senior police officer said.

He said the complainant woman has submitted video clips of the incident to the police.

(With PTI inputs)

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