The Girgaon magistrate court has acquitted BJP leader and Maharashtra Minister of Forest, Cultural Affairs and Fisheries Sudhir Mungantiwar, and seven others, who had taken part in a Ghanta Naad protest near Babulnath temple in 2021.
Magistrate NA Patel acquitted them on Thursday. The detailed order with reasoning would be made available later.
The BJP had called for a state-wide Shankh Naad and Ghanta Naad protest against the then Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s decision to keep temples and other places of worship shut during the Covid pandemic. To protest against this, political and religious activists in large numbers rang bells and blew conches outside temples in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur.
During the time, prohibitory orders were issued against assembly of people to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Mungantiwar’s advocate Prakash Salsingikar had said that the prosecution had failed to provide a video recording of the protest and even though the event took place in a public place, no independent witness was brought before the court. It was a Ghanta and Andolan, but in court the prosecution mentioned the protest as Shankh Naad.
The advocate further alleged that the case had been registered by the then Mumbai Police Commissioner and the Home Minister to falsely implicate the accused persons as they were from the rival party.
The investigating officer of the case had accepted during the cross-examination that she had not seized the Ghanta or Shankh (bell or conch).
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