Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said on Friday there was no ‘political conspiracy’ behind the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Ganesh Joshi, accused of brutally beating up police horse Shaktiman and breaking its leg.
“The action has been taken by the law enforcing agencies and I have no knowledge of it. The incident has not caused any harm to the government’s image as the people have faith in us and trust us. There is absolutely no political conspiracy behind the arrest made in the case,” Rawat told reporters in Dehradun.
Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt, however, alleged Joshi was not arrested and that it seems to be a case of kidnapping as those who took him away were not in uniform.
“We will meet the honourable governor. We will give a befitting reply to the hooliganism taking place in the state under the leadership of Harish Rawat. We believe in democracy and we will do everything in a constitutional manner. But Harish Rawat, the chief minister, stands exposed today. They were in civil dress. We don’t know whether they were policemen or goons. Our MLA has been kidnapped,” Bhatt told ANI.
“We don’t know where he (Ganesh Joshi) is and we have asked the district administration to bring him before us at the earliest. And if there are any allegations against him then he must be produced before the court. We will jam the whole Uttarakhand and will not let anything run here if our leader is not released,” he added.
Joshi was arrested earlier on Friday morning by Uttarakhand police for allegedly assaulting Shaktiman, a horse part of the security force’s mounted unit. The 14-year-old horse was allegedly beaten with sticks by Joshi and his associates during a BJP protest.
Shaktiman’s left hind leg was amputated by doctors on Thursday after it suffered multiple fractures during a BJP protest earlier this week. An initial assessment by doctors raised hopes that Shaktiman would not lose its leg.
However, it had to be amputated to stop gangrene from spreading to other parts of its body.
The BJP MLA, who has been charged with cruelty and maiming an animal, has alleged that he is being targeted by the state’s ruling Congress.
Hours after Joshi was arrested, the Uttarakhand government appeared headed for a crisis on Friday as the BJP said it was in talks with some Congress legislators.
BJP leader Tirath Rawat told news agency ANI that 12-13 Congress legislators were in touch with them due to “growing resentment”. BJP sources told HT they are in touch with a few sulking Congress MLAs who could abstain from voting on the state budget.
The Congress party has dismissed the reports.
“There is no danger to our party, we’re secure. All MLAs are with us,” Kishore Upadhyay, Uttarakhand Congress president, said.