Pune: A day after NCP and BJP workers clashed at an event attended by Union minister Smriti Irani in Pune, police on Tuesday said a case has been registered against three BJP workers for allegedly assaulting a woman, even as the saffron party denied the allegation.
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said action will be taken against those found guilty.
The BJP, on the other hand, claimed there was ”state-sponsored terrorism” in Maharashtra where the Nationalist Congress Party is in power along with the Congress and Shiv Sena.
Workers of the Congress and NCP staged protests against price rise outside a luxury hotel and later at the Bal Gandharva auditorium in Pune where Irani attended events on Monday.
The NCP alleged that one of its women workers was assaulted by BJP workers at Bal Gandharva auditorium where Irani attended a book release function.
”An offence was registered late last night against three BJP workers under Indian Penal Code Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and other relevant sections,” Deccan Gymkhana police station’s senior inspector Murlidhar Karpe said.
The incident took place when NCP workers went to submit a memorandum to Irani over the LPG price hike.
State home minister Walse-Patil said on Tuesday that action will be taken against the guilty irrespective of which party he or she belongs to.
“To beat a woman office-bearer or any woman is objectionable. So, appropriate action will be taken,” he told reporters.
NCP Maharashtra unit’s chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase questioned Irani and senior state BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Chandrakant Patil’s `silence’ over the alleged assault on the woman NCP worker.
“This shows the Maharashtra BJP’s mentality. Women in the state will definitely remember this incident,” Tapase tweeted.
NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto said it was not surprising that Irani, “who once spoke vociferously” (before 2014 when the BJP was in opposition) on price hike, was silent on the issue now.
“But #SmritiIrani ji, Women and Child Development Minister silent and not condemning a #BJP Man’s assault on a #NCP Woman in #Pune is deplorable and dereliction of her duty,” Crasto tweeted. Maharashtra BJP chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye targeted NCP chief Sharad Pawar over the issue.
He also referred to past incidents of alleged beating of an engineer for social media trolling at state minister Jitendra Awhad’s residence “in the presence of policemen”, and recent ”attacks” on BJP leader Vinayak Ambekar and Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale by NCP workers.
“There is state government-sponsored terrorism in Maharashtra with mute approval of Sharad Pawar….the people’s right to live peacefully has been endangered due to the hooliganism of NCP workers,” Upadhye said in a statement.
The state home department, headed by an NCP minister, has instructed police to protect those engaged in spreading terror and the ruling alliance has planned to ”destroy political opponents through terrorism,” he alleged.
Pune BJP city unit president Jagdish Mulik claimed that the allegations of molestation against party workers were false. ”When the incident took place inside the Bal Gandharva auditorium, police were present. There is an attempt to suppress our voice by levelling false allegations,” he said.
Some 150 to 200 NCP workers barged into the luxury hotel where Irani was attending a program earlier, there was also an attempt to block her convoy and throw ink, Mulik said.
Later NCP workers tried to attack the Union minister’s convoy but despite all this police took no action, he alleged.
BJP leaders approached the Deccan Gymkhana police station and demanded that the false cases of molestation against three party workers be withdrawn and cases be registered against those who tried to create chaos at Bal Gandharva auditorium, Mulik further said.
”We also demanded registration of cases against those who tried to block Irani ji’s convoy, those who tried to attack her and 150 to 200 NCP party workers who barged into the hotel,” he said.