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Maharashtra Communal Flare-up: Muslim Man Lynched in Nashik by Alleged Cow Vigilantes

This is the second incident in Nashik in a week, after communal incidents in Akola, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar and Kolhapur.
Muslim Man Lynched

New Delhi: Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the communal cauldron in Maharashtra is heating up.

Recall that Maharashtra has the second highest number of Lok Sabha seats (48) after Uttar Pradesh (80). In both states, BJP is running the ruling government.

Maharashtra, which is being run by the Bharatiya Janata Party- and a Shiv Sena breakway group headed by Eknath Shinde, has been witnessing a string of communal incidents in the recent past in Akola, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur and now Nashik.

In the latest incident in Nashik, Afan Ansari, aged 32, was lynched allegedly by a group of 'cow vigilantes' on suspicion of transporting beef, on Saturday the police said on Monday. His associate, Nasir Qureshi (24), received serious injuries in the attack.

This is the second incident in Nashik in nearly two weeks of killing of a person by 'cow vigilantes', reports PTI.

The incident took place at around 5.30 p.m on Saturday near Gambhirwadi on Ghoti-Sinnar Road in Igatpuri area of Nashik, located more than 150 km from Mumbai, an official said.

Eleven persons have been arrested in this connection, the Ghoti police said.

Two men from Kurla area in Mumbai, who were transporting meat in a car were attacked allegedly by a group of 10 to 15 'cow vigilantes' with steel rods and wooden sticks, the official said.

Ansari and Qureshi were rushed to SMBT Hospital in Dhamangaon area where the former was declared dead during treatment, the official said, adding the other injured person was undergoing treatment.

Based on Qureshi's complaint, the Ghoti police have arrested 11 persons and a case has been registered on charges of murder, he said.

The meat samples have been sent to a forensic lab for testing and further probe is underway into the case, he said.

In Nashik, on June 8, three men transporting cattle on a tempo were attacked allegedly by a group of 'cow vigilantes', police earlier said.

The body of one of them, identified as Lukman Ansari (23), was recovered from a gorge at Ghatandevi in Igatpuri area on June 10, they said.

 Communal Incidents in Areas Where BJP is Weak: Pawar

In a public meeting last week, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, part of the three-party alliance Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray)- Congress-NCP), blamed the state government led by Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis (BJP) for “creating communal” disturbances across the state.

 "Communal riots have been engineered in areas where the BJP is weak so as to derive political mileage. If law and order is poor, the state will have to pay a price," said Pawar while addressing an NCP event in Mumbai.

 In the 2019, Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena (then united) had won 41 out the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. The BJP won 23 seats and the Sena 18.

However, the alliance lies in tatters with the Sena joining hands with the Congress- NCP in a three-party alliance, the breaking up of Sena later and Shinde joining hands with BJP to bring down the MVA government, headed by Uddhav Thackeray.

Maharashtra, therefore, is a high-stakes state for BJP as well as MVA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, as of the 18 Sena MPs, 13 have walked over to the Shinde faction.

Also, the loss by BJP of its traditional seat in the recent Kasba Peth bypolls even after a high-powered campaign, as also the reluctance of the ruling combine to hold the long overdue Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections, are being seen by many as a big setback to the saffron party ahead of the crucial general elections.

(With PTI inputs)

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