Following the Kopardi incident three months — wherein a 14-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered — the BJP-Shiv Sena government is being forced to intervene in a law and order-related situation. It is the growing seriousness of the case — both politically and from the perspective of law and order — as well as the Nashik incident that has forced Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to personally address the situation.
The Nashik incident that saw a five-year-old girl — who was playing with her sister near a temple at Trimbakeshwar — being raped by a 15-year-old in a dilapidated structure behind the temple. Later, a violent mob resorted to stone-pelting. The girl was rushed to the Ghoti Nashik Civil Hospital, following which members of the Maratha community came together outside the hospital and turned violent. State transport and government vehicles were set ablaze and their tyres were slashed. The result of this was that the Mumbai-Agra Highway was blocked on Sunday for over 12 hours.
The situations was eventually under control, but to avoid the spreading of rumours, the government banned internet and mobile data services for the next 48 hours. The minister for state (Home) Deepak Kesarkar issued an appeal to all to maintain law and order. The 15-year-old accused is already under arrest and the chargesheet will be filed in 15 days. As in Kopardi, the case will be handled by the fast-track court and special public prosecute Advocate Ujjwal Nikam will be leading both. As a precautionary measure, schools in the Nashik region were shut on Monday.
In the wake of the Kopardi incident, Fadnavis provided assurances that a chargesheet would be filed within a month and that the case would be transferred to a fast-track court. However, the chargesheet was only filed last Friday — nearly three months since the incident — and the fast-track trial is yet to commence.
It's worth noting that while the Maratha silent morchas in 24 districts were very orderly affairs with no slogan-shouting or public property damage, it was the violent Nashik incident that immediately drew the attention of Fadnavis and other senior ministers.
The Maratha silent morcha began across the state over the course of the past two months across the state, but the state government appeared to be taking the issue too lightly. And until the time the government entered the fray, Maratha youths — largely from the rural parts of the state — were quite upset with Fadnavis and his cabinet. The first silent Maratha morcha was held in Aurangabad on 9 August and at the time of writing, 24 districts have reportedly seen lakhs of Maratha supporters take to the street to demand Maratha reservation and an amendment to the SC/ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act.