Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat refused on Wednesday to withdraw a case against a BJP legislator accused of assaulting and crippling a police horse, even as members of the opposition party created uproar in the assembly, saying their colleague was being framed.
The ruling Congress demanded Ganesh Joshi’s resignation after TV footage showed him brandishing a stick and appearing to strike at the horse during a protest march, while photographs of the injured animal sparked a wave of revulsion on social media.
Doctors fixed the broken leg in an hours-long surgery but sources say the animal’s career may be over.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi, a BJP leader and animal rights activist, said she had written to the party demanding Joshi’s expulsion. The Mussoorie legislator though termed the charges against him a “political conspiracy”, saying the horse was accidentally injured after it went berserk at the rally on Monday.
“I am ready to accept all punishment if found guilty but there is no evidence against me as I never beat the horse,” he said.
The chief minister said the state government should not interfere in police work and also rejected the BJP’s accusations of bias in media reports.
“Every political party has a tendency to overdo things during a protest rally. It is normal. But attacking and injuring a horse is a matter of concern,” he said.
BJP leaders backed Joshi in the legislature, alleging that horses were used to trample opposition party workers protesting against the state’s Congress-led government.
“We are sad that the horse’s leg is broken but these allegations are baseless,” MLA Chandan Namdas told ANI.
“Ganesh Joshi did not injure the horse; it fell on its own and got injured. This is an attempt to fail the rally. There should be an unbiased probe into this matter.”
Members of the BJP said during a discussion in the assembly that Joshi was being set up by the government though there was no proof against him.
“The government is being run from fourth floor of the state secretariat and no department is untouched by it,” said BJP leader Mandan Kaushik Kaushik, who was referring to the chief minister’s aides and political advisers.
(With agency inputs)