Union Minister Ramdas Athawale Allegedly Assaulted Near Mumbai, Blames Police For Inadequate Security

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Union minister Ramdas Athawale is the chief of the Republican Party of India (Athawale).

Thane: 

A 30-year-old man has been detained for allegedly slapping Union minister Ramdas Athawale during an event in Maharashtra, police said. Soon after the Republican Party of India (Athawale) chief had finished his speech in Ambernath on Saturday night, a man called Pravin Gosavi walked up to Mr Athawale with a garland and allegedly slapped him, eyewitnesses have told the police.

Mr Gosavi was beaten up by people present at the rally before he was taken to the hospital by the police. While the attacker is yet to be questioned, he is a former worker of the RPI(A)’s youth wing, police said.

The minister of state for social justice and empowerment, however, has blamed the police for “failing to provide him adequate security”.

“Police didn’t provide sufficient protection that helped the assailant to target me. My popularity is growing and it may have resulted in a jealous person charging against me. I am going to meet chief minister of Maharashtra regarding the same,” Mr Athawale said in a statement.

After the alleged assault, RPI (A) workers gathered outside Mr Athawale’s home with their party’s flags, raised slogans and demanded action. One of the leaders even claimed that it was “pre-planned” attack.

The party has called for a shutdown in Ambernath, about 50 km from Mumbai, today as a mark of protest, but Mr Athawale has asked his party workers to maintain peace.

A case has been registered and investigations are underway, said inspector KG Chavan.

“Gosavi’s membership was terminated from the Republican Party of India (Athawale) a year ago for criminal activities as he was blackmailing people through RTI (Right to Information pleas). He may have been frustrated over it,” PP Shewale, deputy commissioner of police (zone IV), Thane Police, told news agency PTI.

Dalit leader and Gujarat lawmaker Jignesh Mevani condemned the incident, but said that the anger has roots into Mr Athawale’s “silence” on a host of issues.

In September, Mr Athawale had controversially said that the rising petrol and diesel prices don’t affect him as he is a minister. After his comment drew widespread criticism, he apologised saying he had no intention of hurting the sentiments of the common man.

(With inputs from PTI)

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