Mumbai : Minister of state for Housing Sachin Ahir today rubbished reports claiming some of the accused in last week’s gang rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist were related to his party.

The NCP minister also announced that he would initiate legal action against state BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye and Hindi daily Dopahar Ka Saamana, for release and publication of a photo, purportedly showing him with the “accused”. “Police have not yet officially released photographs of the accused in the gang rape case,” he told reporters.

“I spoke with the joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy and he clarified that the (faces of) persons shown with me in the photograph did not match with the arrested accused in the case,” Ahir said. The minister said he would file a defamation suit against Upadhye for circulating the photo sans verification, in media yesterday.

‘Dophar ka Saamana’ published the photo, which shows three persons, with faces circled, indicating they are accused in the gang rape case, greeting Ahir. The Sena publication said the photograph was taken at an Eid programme here in 2010.

“I will also initiate defamation proceedings against ‘Dophar ka Saamna’. Its allegations that some rapists are related to me and my party are baseless. I cannot believe that BJP can stoop this low,” Ahir said. Interestingly, the persons shown in the photograph and termed as accused by the tabloid in its report, were paraded at the press conference by Ahir. “You can imagine their mental torture due to such baseless report,” he said. “It seems personal assistants of some BJP leaders are running that party here. Upadhye’s action has damaged BJP’s image,” he said.

Asked if BJP will initiate action against Upadhye, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said party leaders will take a call.

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