Six days after the clash between workers of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in Mankhurd, in which a constable was seriously injured, the Sena candidate Rahul Shewale in the constituency has come out in support of his wife, who has been accused of triggering the incident.
Shewale told a news conference on Tuesday that Kamini was not at Maharashtra Nagar, where the incident took place in the hours before polling began on April 24.
The Shiv Sena leader denied that he and his wife were evading the police and alleged that the MNS, led by Raj Thackeray, had planned the incident and was putting pressure on the cops to file a complaint against Kamini.
The police have filed a case of rioting against 18 persons, seven of whom have been arrested so far.
"On the day, MNS functionaries were distributing money to lure voters at the spot. When our men learned about this they called on the police control number. The police turned up at the site to check the vehicle (a Scorpio) that was used by MNS workers to distribute money. When the constable (Vikas Thorbole) got inside the vehicle for inspection, the MNS men sped away. The police have also learned that Thorbole suffered injuries after the vehicle left the spot," Shewale said.
He said it was a mistake on the part of Thorbole to get into the vehicle in the absence of election commission (EC) officials. "He should have waited for the EC men to come and inspect the vehicle as it is the job of the police to provide security only in such cases," he said.
Shewale also pointed to a delay in taking the constable to hospital. "Thorbole could have been taken to the nearby civic-run Centenary hospital in Govandi for treatment. However, he was taken to Ghatkopar first and then to Joy hospital in Chembur. Why was the treatment delayed? There is something fishy in this. Thorbole should be given adequate security," Shewale said.
Shewale said that according to doctors treating the policeman, Thorbole's wind and food pipes were damaged by a sharp object. "It is unlikely that he was injured by stone pelting. Besides, he was sitting next to the driver of the vehicle. So, if at all he was injured in the stone pelting he would have received injuries on the left side of the neck, but the fact is otherwise. That means he was attacked by the MNS men inside the vehicle," the Shiv Sena leader alleged.
He said MNS functionaries Rajaram Mangale and local office-bearer Ravindra Gavas were inside the vehicle at the time.
"Besides, as soon as the incident occurred, MLA Mangesh Sangale, former civic law committee chairman Rajiv Chaugule and MNS Lok Sabha candidate from Pune Deepak Paigude were at the spot. What was Paigude doing there?" asked Shewale. He also said there were boxes of money inside the vehicle, which is owned by an MNS functionary from Ghatkopar. "There were MNS flags and pamphlets also inside the vehicle. While the vehicle should have been with the cops, it has been released," Shewale complained.
The Shiv Sena leader, who is former chairman of the civic standing committee, said he was prepared to pay the expenses for the constable's treatment on humanitarian grounds. "We don't attack cops. Our party has never done that. We are ready to cooperate with the police in the case," he said.
MNS leaders could not be reached for their account of the incident.