NCP leader arrested for Miraj riots

The Maharashtra Police on Sunday arrested Mainuddin Shamsuddin Bagwan of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for allegedly masterminding the communal riots in Miraj in September 2009.

Bagwan was the Mayor of Miraj, Sangli and Kupwad Municipal Corporation when the riots took place. His arrest came as a huge embarrassment for NCP, as he is known to be a close aide of party's senior leader Jayant Patil, who was the home minister of state when the riots took place.

The riots had started after a controversy over the erection of an arc depicting Shivaji killing Adilshahi commander Afzal Khan during the Ganesh festival last year. It later spread to various areas in Sangli and Kolhapur district, leading to loss of several lives and property.

Krishna Prakash, former superintendent of police, Sangli, had on June 7 revealed to the media that Bagwan was the mastermind of the Miraj riots. The NCP leader had been untraceable since then.

Meanwhile, Bagwan, through his lawyer, had filed an application for anticipatory bail at the district court on June 9. While the hearing on the application was to take place on Monday, Bagwan surrendered before the police on Sunday morning apparently owing to mounting pressure. He was thereafter arrested on charges of "committing acts for creating communal tension and encouraging destruction of peace" under Sections 143, 147, 149, 295, 153, 427, 120 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 135 of the Mumbai Police Act.

Police said Bagwan would be produced before the court on Monday.

Krishna Prakash had also said that suspects Imran Bopari and Shahid Nadaf, arrested for their involvement in the riots, had told the judicial magistrate that Bagwan's personal assistant Munna had instructed them to trigger riots. "Bopari and Nadaf indulged in activities like throwing cow meat to hurt religious sentiments. The two also said that Munna had helped them in escaping from Miraj after the riots started," the former SP of Sangli had said.

Prakash had also held Shiv Sena chief of Miraj Vikas Suryawanshi responsible for the riots. Earlier, several members of local Muslim as well as Hindu organisations, including Sanatan Sanstha, were arrested.

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