In a big development on Thursday, the Thane Police arrested 5 men who brutally thrashed an engineer on the night of April 5. They are believed to be the security personnel deployed at Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad's bungalow. After being produced in a local court, they were sent to 4-day police custody. The complaint was registered against at the Vartak Nagar police station.
Awhad had publicly opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to light a lamp at 9 pm on April 5. He lamented that problems such as lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and fewer tests had not been addressed. Subsequently, a civil engineer in Thane posted a reportedly offensive social media post ridiculing Awhad.
As per the complainant's account in the FIR registered at the Vartak Nagar Police station, two constables reached his house and took him to the Maharashtra Housing Minister's bungalow. Thereafter, the engineer was allegedly beaten badly by the police constables and goons with lathis, belts and bamboo sticks. While Awhad has refrained from directly commenting on the veracity of the incident, he wrote on Twitter stressing that he did not support lawlessness. Speaking to Republic TV on Wednesday, the aforesaid engineer revealed that not only was his mobile phone was confiscated, but also Awhad was present at the bungalow when the thrashing took place.
Taking note of the incident, Maharashtra Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to immediately sack Jitendra Awhad from the Cabinet. He described this as an "extremely grave" matter. While acknowledging that an individual had a right to file a complaint against the misuse of social media, he contended that no semblance of law and order would exist in the state if the governing class took law into their own hands. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil also condemned the alleged misuse of authority by Awhad. Furthermore, a delegation of BJP leaders including former Lok Sabha MP Kirit Somaiya was not allowed to visit the complainant's residence.