Taking the police by shock, at least 11 accused arrested in connection with the April triple lynching case in Maharashtra’s Palghar have tested Covid-19 positive, a police official said here on Tuesday.
“The accused were due to be shifted soon from Wada Police Station lockup to a temporary jail being set up by the district collectorate, for which Covid-19 tests were carried out on all at this police station. Today, the test reports of 11 have come positive,” said the official.
Presently, they are isolated at the Covid Care Hospital in Posheri, Wada, but soon they will be shifted to the Prisoners Isolation Ward in Palghar Rural Hospital, as advised by the local medical authorities, he added.
It is not clear whether any police or security personnel who may have come in contact with the accused are infected, even as full precautions are exercised at the police station.
In early May, one accused had tested positive.
The 12 afflicted are among around 160 people arrested in connection with the mob-lynching of two Sadhus and their driver in a remote area of the district. Those arrested include 9 minors and several local politicians.
The accused are housed in lock-ups at Wada, Dahanu, Vikramgarh, Kasa, Talasari and other police stations to avoid overcrowding in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the night of April 16, Kalpavrukshagiri Maharaj, 70, his assistant Sushilgiri Maharaj, 35, and their driver Nilesh Telgade, 30, were pounced upon and killed by an angry mob of around 350 villagers which mistook them for kidnappers near Gadchinchale village.
The incident sparked a nationwide political row which prompted the Maharashtra government to effect a major shakeup in the local police, including shunting out Superintendent of Police Gaurav Singh and replacing him with senior IPS officer D.T. Shinde.
Simultaneously, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh handed over the triple-lynching probe to the state CID, suspended five police officials and transferred 35 police constables to different police stations within the district.
Deshmukh also visited the Kasa Police Station under the jurisdiction of which the mob-lynching incident took place.