NCP leader Jitendra Awhad with supporters after bail on Saturday, November 12.
Jitendra Awhad, a legislator from Sharad Pawar’s NCP, has tweeted that after “two false cases against me in 72 hours… I have decided to resign as MLA”.
On bail after his arrest last week for disrupting a show of Marathi film ‘Har Har Mahadev’ in Thane over “distorting the history of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj”, the former minister is now accused of assaulting a woman. A case registered under the Indian Penal Code Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) has been registered as he allegedly pushed her during a public event at the opening of a bridge in Mumbra on November 13.
“I will fight against this police brutality. I cannot simply watch this murder of democracy,” said Mr Awhad, MLA from Mumbra-Kalwa constituency in Thane, in his tweet in Marathi.
The woman has alleged that MLA Jitendra Awhad “forcefully pushed” her when she was moving towards Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to meet him as he’d come to participate in the inauguration.
Angry over the FIR, NCP workers protested at the Mumbra police station and burnt tyres.
Earlier, over forcibly shutting the screening of ‘Har Har Mahadev’, Mr Awhad was arrested on Friday and released on Saturday. He is charged with sections 323 (assault) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace).
Mr Awhad said the orders to arrest him had come from “higher authorities” — seen as a reference to the Eknath Shinde-BJP government — adding that he had saved a man who was allegedly manhandled at the multiplex on November 7.
His party leader leader and MP Supriya Sule also accused the police of being under “pressure from above”. Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Aaditya Thackeray criticised the state government, too: ‘’Jitendra Awhad has done the right thing. We are ready to go to jail with him.”
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde denied any politics behind the arrest and said the police must have taken action as per law.
On November 7, Mr Awhad and his supporters allegedly gatecrashed a multiplex in Thane to disrupt the show. When people demanded a refund and passed comments regarding the disruption, Mr Awhad and his supporters allegedly assaulted some of them.
A day later, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said beating up moviegoers will not be tolerated and action will be taken against people involved in such incidents. “People are permitted to register their opposition democratically. I have not seen the movie and I am not aware of the controversy,” he’d said.
Mr Awhad was arrested three days later.
He was Housing Minister in the previous Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government under Uddhav Thackeray until Eknath Shinde divided the Sena and took the chair with the BJP’s backing.
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