A day after the city was engulfed in violence by angry Dalits, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Friday defended the police role in tackling the protests. Deshmukh denied that intelligence failure resulted in spreading the agitation to several parts of the city and state causing massive damage to public property.
After reviewing the law and order situation on his arrival from Singapore, Deshmukh told the media that strong reaction to the desecration on Tuesday of Ambedkar’s statue was natural. “But it will be too early to say the police failed in intelligence gathering. And when women and children lead the charge, the police can’t take strong measures to control the mob,” he said.
However, contrary to what he publicly stated, in a meeting with top government officials, Deshmukh said police intelligence needed to be strengthened; indicating he was unhappy with the way the police handled the situation.
Condemning violent attacks on police and public property, Deshmukh said: “When any protest crosses limits, the agitators lose public sympathy." He also announced that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was to take over the Khairlanji probe from the State police on Friday.
Significantly, Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil, who is at the receiving end, chose not to speak much. He maintained silence as Deshmukh sought to defend the government.
The CM is in damage control mode as the winter session of the State Legislature is set to start on December 4 and the Opposition, Shiv Sena-BJP, is gearing up to corner the government over Thursday’s violence.
The ruling Democratic Front government is also worried about the timing of the violence. The elections to municipal corporations and rural bodies are expected to be held early next year and the anger among the Dalits may result in a loss of the Dalit vote.
Meanwhile, the Nagpur police have denied permission for a protest march leading to the Assembly House in Nagpur on December 4. Various Dalit organisations had declared that they would storm the Assembly on the first day of the winter session.
Short takes Nikalje to face the music
Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Deepak Nikalje has come under the police scanner for his alleged role in instigating riot-like situation in the city’s central suburbs on Thursday. “Mumbai police commissioner will hold an independent probe against Nikalje,” Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said.
No effect on investment
Stating that the Dalit violence in Maharashtra was only temporary, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said this would not prevent investors from pumping money here. “My Singapore tour (cut short due to situation in the state) was successful. I met some important investors who showed their keen interest in the state,” Deshmukh said.
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