Five Maharashtra legislators suspended for thrashing cop

Mumbai, March 20 (IANS) The Maharashtra legislature Wednesday suspended five of its members, including one each from the BJP, Shiv Sena and MNS, for assaulting a police officer within the legislature premises.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harshwardhan Patil announced the suspension of the five legislators from the house till the end of the year.
The five are independent legislators Kshitij Thakur and Pradeep Jaiswal, Shiv Sena’s Rajan Salvi, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Ram Kadam, and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Jaykumar Rawal.
They have been booked by police late Tuesday night for thrashing Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryawanshi on the first floor of Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan Tuesday afternoon.
The provocation for the attack was an incident Monday when Suryawanshi allegedly stopped the vehicle of independent legislator Kshitij Thakur and fined him for violating the speed limit on the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
Suryawanshi slapped a fine of Rs.700 on Thakur, which resulted in a heated argument between them. The independent legislator from Nala Sopara (Thane) constituency alleged that Suryawanshi misbehaved with him.
Thakur recounted the incident in the house Tuesday and moved a breach of privilege notice against the police official, who was in the visitors’ gallery to answer the charges against him.
After Thakur’s detailed account, several legislators cutting across party lines demanded Suryawanshi’s suspension for high-handed misbehavior with a law-maker.
Just then, some legislators saw Suryawanshi, who was allegedly gesticulating at the members below from the visitors’ gallery.
Thakur recognised him and along with some other legislators, rushed outside to chase and catch Suryawanshi on the first floor. There, they assaulted him, slapped, punched and kicked him.
Not taking the incident lying down, several top IPS officers of Maharasthra, including city Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, called on Chief Minsiter Prithviraj Chavan and demanded action in the matter.
“This is a deplorable and reprehensible act. Something like this has never happened before in the history of the legislature. We are investigating the entire matter, checking out the CCTV records and also mobile records of the incident and will take necessary action by tomorrow,” Chavan told media-persons later.
Condemning the assault, Chavan said there were legislative remedies available for tackling any kind of issues and the incident should not have taken place in a democratic set-up.
Late Tuesday night, police booked 14 legislators from various parties for the assault, while police and legislature security officials scanned CCTV footage to investigate the incident.
Five of the legislators were suspended Tuesday on the basis of the investigations and the CCTV footage showing their involvement in the attack on the police officer.
However, Suryawanshi has claimed that he was not present in the visitors’ gallery and was attacked when he was proceeding to the legislature canteen.
Following the assault, Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil apologised to the people of Maharashtra, to the police force and the legislature, and promised a probe into incident which created a furore in the state.
Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai has contended that his party legislator was wrongly implicated in the incident and the party would challenge it in the court.
Nationalist Congress Party spokesman Nawab Malik said the incident served to lower the dignity of the august house in front of the whole country.