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Special team will probe local police`s inaction in 2020 complaint, says Fadnavis

Special team will probe local police`s inaction in 2020 complaint, says Fadnavis

A special team will probe why the Maharashtra Police did not act on a complaint filed by Shraddha Walkar against Aftab Poonawala in November 2020, the Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the Assembly on Tuesday, reported the PTI.

Walkar was allegedly killed by her live-in partner Poonawala in May this year in their rented Delhi flat. He allegedly chopped her body into multiple pieces and disposed them over several weeks before he was arrested by the Delhi Police last month.

Fadnavis, who handles the state Home Ministry, said so far it has not occurred in any investigation if there was any political or any other pressure on the police behind Walkar withdrawing the complaint, the PTI reported. 

Walkar, who had resided in the Vasai region with Poonawala before moving to Delhi, had lodged a complaint with Vasai police on November 23, 2020, stating Poonawala had been physically abusing her for over six months and threatened to kill her and chop her into pieces.

Police had repertedly said that no action was taken as when they went to follow up with Walkar, she said Poonawala`s parents had come and talked to him, and she had no more complaints. The complaint was withdrawn on December 19, 2020.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of the Maharashtra government`s decision to set up a committee to gather information on inter-faith marriage couples, Fadnavis said the state government is not against such marriages. But it has been realised over time that there is a design as part of a conspiracy. In some districts such marriages are taking place in big numbers, he said.

Fadnavis also said that the inter-faith committee has been formed for the same purpose. The panel, headed by a minister, will track and maintain records of inter-faith marriages, married couples, and also their families.

This panel is for the same purpose. When Shraddha Walkar`s father said we didn`t understand where to go and we could have saved her had someone facilitated a conversation with her. People do not know where to go in such a situation and the panel is for facilitation, Fadnavis said, according to the PTI.

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The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) had sought to target the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government over the Walkar case.

Raising the alleged inaction of police on Walkar`s initial complaint in the Legislative Assembly, BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar said when Walkar was residing in Vasai she had lodged a complaint with the Tulinj police and then took it back.

Her father has said publicly that there was pressure on the police. Aaftab`s parents also pressured her which is why she took back the complaint.

Was there political pressure on the police not to act when they received the complaint? When this happened, during that time, (Amravati pharmacist Umesh) Kolhe was killed and the Tablighi Jamaat`s name cropped up in the charge sheet today, Bhatkhalkar said.

Another BJP MLA Ashish Shelar also raised the same issue.

Fadnavis said there was a month`s gap between lodging the complaint (by Walkar) and taking it back. She lodged the complaint on November 23, 2020, but withdrew it on December 19.

Responding to Shelar`s question on whether a probe will be conducted to understand what police did during the period after Walkar lodged the complaint and withdrew it, Fadnavis said a special team will be formed.

“I have accepted that there is a time gap. As demanded by Ashish Shelar, a special team will probe why Walkar was assaulted, (why was) the complaint taken back, and why no action was taken in the intervening time, Fadnavis said.

He said if cognisance was taken of Walkar`s complaint the further episode could have been averted.

“Police have been instructed through the Director General that when a case of violence comes up, especially in interfaith marriages, they should act immediately, or at least hear the woman out,” he added. 

(with PTI inputs)

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