Maharashtra: Hindutva leader, others acquitted in 2014 lynching of Mohsin Shaikh

File photo of 28-year-old Mohsin Shaikh who was killed by a mob in Pune, Maharashtra in 2014

28-year-old Mohsin Shaikh’s killing in 2014 was the first mob lynching case after BJP had come to power in the centre. 

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PUNE (MAHARASHTRA) – Nine years after the murder of an IT professional Mohsin Shaikh in Maharashtra, a Pune Sessions Court on Friday acquitted all 20 accused including Dhananjay Desai, head of Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS), a right-wing outfit.  

In a verdict annouced today, Pune Additional Sessions Judge S.B. Salunkhe acquitted Desai and others for lack of evidence. 

The evidence brought on record was not strong enough to convict Desai and other co-accused and the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts, lawyer Sudhir Shah said for one of the accused.

Desai was represented by senior lawyer Milind Pawar.

28-year-old Shaikh, an IT professional, was attacked and killed on June 2, 2014 in Hadapsar area by a mob incensed by morphed pictures of deities and personalities such as Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and late Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray. 

Shaikh was returning home with his friend Riyaz A. Shendrare after offering prayers in a mosque and was targeted by some motorcycle-borne men armed with hockey sticks, cricket bats, stones and other weapons, who created mayhem in the vicinity, attacking people and properties, his family had said. 

Shaikh recieved grievous injuries in the attack and died while under treatment in hospital. 

His brother Mobin Shaikh lodged an FIR. In his complaint, Mobin stated that the attackers intercepted his brother Mohsin and his friend Riyaz at Satav Plot around 9.15 p.m. as he sported a beard and wore a light-green Pathani suit. This was one of the first mob-lynching case after BJP came to power in 2014. 

The Pune Police charged Desai of inciting passions through inflammatory speeches in January and March 2014 in Manjari and Lonikalbhor areas in Hadapsar.

The Congress-NCP government of the state had appointed eminent lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, Special Public Prosecutor, but after objections from some groups, he finally opted out in May 2017. The government later appointed the District Government Pleader Ujjwala Pawar as the SPP. After her retirement, Dhaigude Patil continued the matter.

21 people, including a minor, all said to be part of Hindu Rashtra Sena, were booked as accused. All of them were released on bail later, as their lawyers argued that the case had political motives as the state assembly elections were due at that time. 

Desai was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on January 7, 2019.

Shaikh’s father Sadiq Shaikh had struggled to get justice for his son before passing away in 2018, reported then. 

Father of lynched Pune techie Mohsin Shaikh passes away without getting justice

Reacting to the acquittal, Desai said that it was a conspiracy, and he was framed, ANI reported. 

The Sessions Court verdict has evoked sharp reactions from various political parties in the state. (With IANS inputs)