Mumbai: NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Tuesday accused Maharashtra ATS of "terrorising" Muslim youths on "mere suspicion" and detaining them illegally, sparking criticism from BJP and AIMIM that he is taking "opportunistic stance" for political gains.
Addressing a press meet in Mumbai, Pawar said a delegation of various Muslim outfits met him recently and aired their concern over the youths from the community being "terrorised" on mere suspicion of having links with Islamic State and other banned organisations.
"A 28-member delegation representing various Muslim organisations met me recently and complained that the ATS is terrorising Muslim youths in the name of IS and other banned organisations. This delegation strongly condemned IS and said the youths of their community would never support their activities," Pawar said.
He claimed that there have been several instances, especially in Marathwada region, where youths had been picked up by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on grounds of suspicion and detained "illegally."
"According to the law, an arrested person has to be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours. But there have been cases where even after 120 hours the detained persons are kept in some isolated location and not let out. The government needs to take serious cognizance of this," the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
The arrested should be immediately produced before a magistrate, there should be an immediate chargesheet and they should be tried in a fast track court, he said. "A criminal has no caste or creed. A particular community should not be labelled (as criminal)," he said.
Meanwhile Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the statement of Sharad Pawar on ATS is misleading.
AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan said Pawar was suffering from "selective amnesia" and sought to know what he had done to protect innocent Muslims implicated in cases when he was in power in the state.
U-turn on atrocity
The NCP supremo said he had never made any demand on the abolition of The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
"In some of the cases, which were brought to my notice, the provisions of The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were used by rivals groups from the upper class to settle scores. There was no misuse from the Dalit community. Recently, the parliament has amended the Act. My only submission is that its misuse be avoided," Pawar was quoted as saying by The Business Standard. The NCP chief also warned the the government agencies from misusing the law.
According to The Times of India, referring to the Kopardi rape-murder case, Pawar said, "Girls and women are subjected to abuses.demand for scrapping of the act is a social reaction which needs to be considered seriously."
BJP wants to back Emergency
Commenting upon the government's proposed internal security law, Pawar said these (the BJP) are the same people who took a moral high ground against the Emergency imposed in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the India Today reported.
"The government has changed and so the system of making law, it seems. The thumb rule has been that the CM and his Council of Ministers decide to make a particular law and ask his Secretary to frame it. Here it is reverse," he said, referring to Additional Chief Secretary (Home) KP Bakshi's contention that the proposed law had been made at the secretarial level and there were no discussions at the ministerial level.
Backing Maratha reservation
The Business Standard reported that Pawar said his party is in the favour of reservation to economically backward Muslim and Maratha communities but without disturbing the present reservation quota provided to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes.
With inputs from PTI