Violence in Ahmednagar, where crime and politics is ‘family affair’

The distinct factor of the latest violence has been that leaders of political parties accused of Sena members’ killings and subsequent violence are relatives of each other

pune Updated: Apr 08, 2018 22:44 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,ahmednagar,crime
Police force has been deployed at sensitive pockets after the murder of two cadres of Shiv Sena at Ahmednagar in Pune.(SHANKAR NARAYAN/HT PHOTO)

The killing of two Shiv Sena members- Sanjay Kotkar and Vasant Thube in Ahmednagar on Saturday followed by the arrest of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator, which led to violence at police headquarter, has brought the focus back on how the western Maharashtra town has seen criminalisation of politics over the years.

The distinct factor of the latest violence has been that leaders of political parties accused of Sena members’ killings and subsequent violence are relatives of each other.

Following the violence, police filed two FIRs, one under section 302 (murder) and 120b (criminal conspiracy) for the killing of two Shiv Sena members Sanjay Kotkar and Vasant Thube and second for violence at police superintendent’s office. The Sena members were shot at and also attacked with sharp weapons.

Among 31 booked for the killing of Sena members include NCP MLA Sangram Jagtap, his father and Member of Legislative Council Arun Jagtap, and father-in-law Shivaji Kardile, who is BJP legislator.

In the second FIR, police have booked 51 persons including BJP MLA Kardile, after large mob comprising of NCP workers stormed the office and of the superintendent of police and ransacked it.

Saturday’s killings were the fallout of rivalry emerging out of by-polls necessitated after a Congress corporator was convicted for the murder of a political activist.

Congress member Vishal Kotkar, also an accused in the Sena members’ murder case, won the by-polls after his father and three other family members were convicted for the murder of political opponent Ashok Lande during 2012.

While Kardile’s elder daughter is married to Sangram Jagtap, his second daughter is the wife of Vishal Kotkar’s brother and former mayor Sandip Kotkar.

Considered as the strongman in Ahmednagar politics, Kardile faces 12 different criminal cases, including those of murder and extortion.

Shivaji Shirke, political observer and local journalist for two decades said, “Ahmednagar has seen criminalisation of politics with leaders of every party sharing relationship with members from rival parties. This has made it easier for them to prevent others from entering into politics.”

Commenting on the links of Jagtap, Kardile and Kotkar in the Sena members killings, senior party leader and minister in state cabinet Ramdas Kadam said, “The NCP, Congress and BJP jointly hatched a conspiracy to kill Shiv Sena members.” Kadam also demanded the removal of district police chief saying the senior officials were ‘mute spectators’ when the violence occurred.

Responding to violence, district guardian minister Ram Shinde said, “No one including political leaders will be spared if police find their involvement in the Sena members killings and subsequent violence.”

Geographically one of the largest districts in the state, Ahmednagar with a population of 45 lakh is politically an important district given the cooperative movement taking roots in the district, which has produced leaders such as Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Balasaheb Thorat and others.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 22:42 IST