Union minister Ramdas Athawale has said that Amravati MP Navneet Rana, who was booked for sedition along with her MLA husband, is a Dalit and injustice was meted out to her by the MVA government out of “vendetta politics”.
Interacting with media persons in Delhi on Tuesday night, the Minister of State for Social Justice demanded a probe into the entire episode related to the lawmaker couple. Athawale made the comments after he met the Rana couple- Navneet and Ravi Rana- at the Independent MP’s official residence in the national capital.
Protests had erupted after the Ranas announced to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s private residence in Mumbai last month. They were subsequently arrested amid angry protests by Shiv Sainiks on the charge of promoting enmity.
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Later the sedition charge was also added. Athawale said everyone has the right to stage a protest in democracy and questioned the charge of sedition invoked against the lawmaker couple. He said the Ranas only wanted to recite ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ outside Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’ with the intention that various issues plaguing the state will be resolved through the divine invocation.
“There was no need to register a sedition case against them as they did not stage a protest, but had only announced in that regard (Ranas later withdrew their plan to chant Hanuman Chalisa). “To put them in jail under the sedition charge is a blot on democracy,” he alleged.
Athawale further alleged that residences of the Ranas in Amravati and suburban Khar in Mumbai were pelted with stones. He also questioned the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) move to issue a notice to the Khar housing society, where the Ranas own a flat for alleged illegal alterations and accused the civic body of acting with vengeance.
“Ranas have faced injustice. Navneet Rana is an elected MP. The action taken against her with revenge is very serious. Navneet Rana belongs to our Dalit community. Injustice was meted out to her. I condemn the injustice on behalf of the RPI. Action should be taken against the police for committing the injustice,” Athawale said.
The couple walked out of jail on May 5, a day after a Mumbai court granted them bail.