By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad, Rajkot | Published: June 13, 2020 1:03:25 am
Amit Chavda further said that a delegation of Congress will visit the Election Commission on Friday. (File)
EVEN AS police questioned Congress MLA Punja Vansh for the third time in five days in connection with the alleged attempt on life of former BJP MLA Kalu Rathod in Una of Gir Somnath district, Congress on Friday alleged that repeated police summons to Vansh was a tactic of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to pressurise the Congress MLA to change his allegiance during the ongoing Rajya Sabha election.
In a press conference held in Ahmedabad on Friday, Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda claimed that the police in Una have issued as many as four summons between June 8 and June 12 to the Vansh in a case where he wasn’t even named in the FIR.
Three men had allegedly opened fire on Rathod, the incumbent president of Una municipality, while he was attending a condolence meeting on May 28. Rathod had sustained bullet wound in his chin and was hospitalised while three others were also injured. The SIT headed by Deputy Superintendent of Police M M Parmar is investigating the case and has arrested nine people so far.
Gir Somnath SP Rahul Tripathi confirmed that they had questioned Vansh. “Right now, I cannot comment whether he is being treated as a witness or an accused but we have questioned him on three-four occasions and the matter is still under investigation… We are just ascertaining certain facts which came out during investigation,” the SP told The Indian Express.
Vansh said that that police were not clarifying anything to him. “Before Friday, they had questioned me for 11 hours cumulatively and I had given them satisfactory answers. But police are not telling me if I am being treated as a witness, suspect or accused,” the MLA said on Friday.
Minister of State of Home, Pradeepsinh Jadeja in a statement rejected the Opposition charge and said that the police had summoned him twice and would not summon again. He also said that Rathod, had stated in his “dying declaration” that the attack on him was on account of “political rivalry in the nagarpalika elections” Jadeja further said that in the attack on Rathod was to settle a political rivalry and carried out by “anti social elements who used men of the Madhuvan Group” and that Rathod also “did what he did in self defence”. The minister said that Rathod, on returning to Una “had named Vansh as being behind the attack”.
Jadeja also said that Vansh was in contact of those whose names have cropped up in the probe of attack on Rathod. “Vansh was in constant touch of those whose names have surfaced in connection with the attack. So, police summoned him under CrPC Section 160 for the purpose of investigation after assessing that doing so was warranted. ”
According to Chavda, “The FIR was filed by a complainant who has a criminal history and he stated that in total eight persons were involved in the conspiracy to attack him. Our MLA was not even named in the FIR by the complainant yet the police on June 5 issued a summon to him asking him to appear at the police station on June 8 morning. … a second summon was issued to him for June 9… then a third was issued for him to be present on June 11”. Chavda alleged that Vansh had requested in writing that he be called for questioning after June 19 when the Rajya Sabha elections are scheduled, “but the police responded with a fourth notice summoning him to the police station on June 12. This attitude by Una police shows that the state government is using bullying and intimidation tactic to prevent our MLA from dropping his vote on June 19,”
Chavda further said that a delegation of Congress will visit the Election Commission on Friday.
“Today, a delegation will visit the ECI and make an appeal against the tactics of horse trading and misuse of power to undemocratic ally win elections by the BJP so that the EC should remain neutral and ensure that no legislator should be harassed till the election,” said Chavda.
Besides Chavda, senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of Opposition, Paresh Dhanani also alleged the same.
“Vansh has led a spotless life. He takes leadership of the poor and fights for the truth. He also raises issues of the people and does not get lured by offer of money made by the BJP. Therefore, now an attempt is being made to threaten and intimidate him. Our MLAs were forced to switch sides in this manner earlier also…,” Modhwadia alleged.
“Being a senior leader of the Congress, party needed his services in times of this Rajya Sabha election. Therefore, he requested police to summon him on any date post June 19 when the election gets over. But police did not grant his request and issued a fresh summon seeking his presence on Friday. This is despite no material recovered against him,” said Modhwadia.
Vansh was part of the group of 19 Congress MLAs who were herded in the private resort in Rajkot on June 5 after party MLA from Morbi, Brijesh Merja resigned as MLA, thus becoming eight Congress MLA to resign in the run up to the Rajya Sahba elections and jeopardising the Opposition party’s prospects of retaining two RS seats. Vansh had also joined the MLA group in travelling to Gadhada and Dhari to ‘protest’ against resignations of party MLAs Pravin Maru and JV Kakadiya.
“The (BJP) government has been using government machinery to file false cases and beat up elected leaders, journalists and people who dare to speak out against the government and thus it been trying to muzzle voice of the people. Gujarat has been witness repeatedly to sights of elected leaders, in an attempt to save democracy, going into hiding and keep changing their whereabouts like kittens,” Dhanani added while apparently referring to party shifting its MLAs to resorts and farmhouses.
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