Navy veteran assaulted by Shiv Sena workers in Mumbai: Congress claims BJP MP orchestrated attack on ex-Army man, slams party’s ‘double standards’

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Updated on Sep 14, 2020 12:00 AM IST
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ByNaresh Kamath, Mumbai

Amid criticism over the attack on a retired naval officer in Mumbai by six Shiv Sena party workers, the Congress, which is one of Sena’s ruling partners, claimed a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had orchestrated an attack on an army veteran four years ago and questioned BJP’s “double standards” on the issue. BJP leaders had criticised the Maharashtra government for the attack on the navy veteran, with former chief minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis appealing to CM Uddhav Thackeray to end the ‘goonda raj’ in the state.

Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant has claimed that in 2016, an army veteran, Sonu Mahajan, was attacked at the behest of BJP MP Unmesh Patil in Chalisgaon area in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district.

“The then BJP government did not register an FIR (first information report) and in fact hounded him. Mahajan had to approach the high court to get the case registered. The BJP has not taken any action against Patil. In contrast to that, our government (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) booked the accused and arrested them in the present case,” said Sawant.

Mahajan in a recorded message spoke of harassment by the BJP MP.

“Despite being attacked by Unmesh Patil’s men, I was locked up in prison. It was finally in 2019 that I was able to get the case registered on the orders of the high court. However till date, no action has been taken against Patil or his men who attacked me,” said Mahajan.

The BJP was quick to rebuff the allegations as baseless. “Why didn’t the Congress raise this issue all these years? Even the FIR filed in the Madan Sharma (the retired naval officer) case was an eye-wash as all the accused got bail within no time,” said BJP legislator Atul Bhatalkar.

On Friday, Sharma was attacked by six Shiv Sena workers in Kandivli after he allegedly shared a cartoon mocking Thackeray. The BJP led the onslaught calling the incident “state-sponsored terrorism”. On Saturday, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh had a telephonic conversation with Sharma and later tweeted that “attacks on servicemen were deplorable and unacceptable”.

The Sena, however, said it was not right to drag the party into this issue.

“The workers did not take permission from us. However at the same time, it was wrong to provoke people as they have high respect for their leaders,” said Sena MP Sanjay Raut.

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