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No political pressure on the police, says CM Shinde about Awhad’s molestation case; MLA’s bail hearing today

There will be no political interference in the investigation of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jitendra Awhad, who has been booked for allegedly assaulting a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) employee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath said Shinde, Monday. will be done transparently.

“The FIR has been registered according to the lady’s complaint. The police will carry out the investigation and take the necessary measures. There will be transparency. There is no political pressure on the police,” Shinde said, according to news agency ANI.

Molestation case against Awhad

The police registered a case of sexual assault against Nationalist Congress Party MLA and former Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad on a woman’s complaint, prompting him to resign as MLA for “false” charges. He denied the charges.

Two days ago, Awhad was released on bail in a case of disrupting the showing of the Marathi movie “Har Har Mahadev” at a cinema in Thane city.

In her complaint, the complainant alleged that Awhad pushed her as he gave way to himself during the crowd dispersal following a prime minister’s event in Mumbra, according to the First Information Report (FIR).

Awhad is the MLA of Mumbra-Kalwa seat in Thane district.

“The police have made two false complaints against me, including allegations under IPC 354. I am resigning as an MLA. I will fight against such police brutality against me. I can’t see the murder of democracy with my eyes,” Awhad tweeted Monday.

He later told reporters that such accusations would spoil one’s family life.

Thane Court hears Awhad’s plea for bail today

After Mumbra police registered a case against Awhad on Monday under section 354 of India’s penal code (sexual assault or felonious assault against a woman with intent to violate her modesty), he went to court in Thane to seek bail prior to the arrest.

Judge PM Gupta remanded the case to court on Tuesday morning, an official said.

The court has ordered the Thane city police not to arrest Awhad until his pre-arrest application for bail has been considered and completed.

The complainant alleged that Awhad pushed her while making way for himself during the crowd dispersal following an event held by Prime Minister Eknath Shinde in Mumbra, according to the First Information Report (FIR).

A senior police officer said Monday night that a case had been registered against the complaining woman under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Awhad resigns from his legislative position

Awhad said he has submitted his resignation and denounced “false cases” registered against him and addressed them to the chairman of the Maharashtra assembly.

However, Speaker Rahul Narvekar told PTI that Awhad has not physically submitted his letter of resignation to the speaker’s office, which is required by House rules.

BJP demands suspension of Awhad from BJP

As the controversy raged, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday demanded that NCP suspend Awhad from the party.

BJP state chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule also said that cases against Awhad, including the disruption of the screening of a Marathi film in Thane, were based on CCTV footage and videos.

NCP supports Awhad

The NCP supported Awhad, the former housing minister in the MVA government.

Senior leader Ajit Pawar said CM Shinde should come forward and explain that nothing of the sort happened as he was present when the crowd was dispersed after an event held in Mumbra in Thane district on Sunday night.

“The Prime Minister should come forward and explain that nothing of the sort had happened there. Regardless of how he became the chief minister, Shinde represents 13 crore people of the state, he said, adding that the attempt to get a deputy in trouble is an “act of cowardice”.

Awhad’s wife Ruta Awhad said, “The complaining woman is out on bail. And how come she realized after four hours that her modesty was outraged?”

Maharashtra NCP President Jayant Patil alleged that Awhad was deliberately targeted by the state government. “The complaining woman had met CM Shinde before filing the case against Awhad,” claimed Patil addressing a press conference with Awhad.

“He (Awhad) has submitted his resignation. We will discuss the matter with NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and make a decision. Awhad is disturbed. He could challenge all other charges, but certainly not the one against him,” Patil added.

Video of the incident

Awhad stated that he merely asked a BJP female party operative (the prosecutor) to step aside as he drove away from the vehicle carrying Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

The video footage of the incident shows Awhad talking to CM Shinde and as he walked away from the vehicle surrounded by people, the NCP leader asked a woman to move away with his hands and continued.

“I told her why she was trying to approach in such a rushed and busy place. Please make room for me. However, I did not know what happened at midnight and the police invoked IPC 354 against me and a case was filed with the police station.

“The video footage of the entire incident speaks for itself. If the police had seen the video, they wouldn’t have filed a complaint against me. I condemn false cases that have been registered against me which have made my resignation,” Awhad added.

As word spread that Awhad had resigned, many auto rickshaws in his constituency stopped plying the roads.

A demonstration was held by supporters of Awhad outside the police station. Some people set burning tires on a road while a rasta roko protest was held on Mumbra ring road.

An additional police force has been deployed to Mumbra and the situation is under control, a senior police officer said.

He said the complaining woman has submitted video clips of the incident to police.

(with PTI inputs)

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