'Mud bath' for engineer

Mumbai: It is raining blows in poll-bound Maharashtra. Assembly elections are in the offing and this is the time politicians unabashedly display their concern for public welfare. The habitually violent Congress legislator from Kankavli, Nitesh Narayan Rane, who is also the son of the BJP MP Narayan Rane, once again took the law into his hands on Thursday, by pouring mud on an engineer working with the National Highway Authority of India. He then proceeded to tie the engineer to the railing of the bridge on the Gad river to force him to acknowledge the condition of the bridges.

Rane was inspecting potholes on the Mumbai-Goa highway when his attention was drawn to the pathetic condition of the bridge. It was only after there was public outcry and the media lapped up the incident that the police booked Nitesh and his six partners in the crime.

Nitesh and two of his supporters were later arrested and a search for the remaining accused is on, the police said. They are likely to spend the night at the police station and may get bail on Friday. Narayan Rane, a former chief minister of Maharashtra, who left the Congress to become a Rajya Sabha member from the BJP, has expressed unhappiness over his son's behaviour.

For the record, though Nitesh Rane is technically in the Congress, he has joined his father Narayan Rane's Swabhiman Sanghatana.

Last week, a BJP MLA from Indore, Akash Vijayvargiya, was arrested after he was caught on camera chasing and attacking an official who was removing encroachments. During a BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, PM Modi had said that arrogance and misbehaviour cannot be tolerated. In a video which went viral on social media, Nitesh is seen pushing the engineer, identified as Prakash Shedekar, while his supporters poured buckets of mud over the hapless victim.

Nitesh is seen goading his supporters to throw mud on Shedekar. “Throw it on his head. Now you will understand...What should people do, should they die in front of you? What will happen if the wall collapses?” Rane is heard saying. A group of supporters, allegedly belonging to his Swabhiman Sanghatna, are then seen tying Shedekar to the bridge. Angry over the non-construction on a service road in the area, a visibly angry Rane heckles and shouts at the engineer and says, “Do you even know the condition of the people? You are only in a hurry to construct pillars. Who will construct the gutters? How will the water flow? How can you be so careless? Do you even know how people travel on this road?”

Parakash Shedekar is a deputy engineer working with the NHAI. The Swabhiman Sanghtana, led by Nitesh Rane, had announced an agitation over the poor condition of the road. It was the responsibility of the state government and the local police to ensure the safety of officials. But the police were conspicuous by their absence when Shedekar met the agitators.

In 2017, Nitesh had thrown a dead fish at the additional commissioner for fisheries in Sindhudurg at a meeting called to discuss the problems of fishermen in Konkan. An FIR had been filed against him in this case but because of his political clout, he had managed to stall the case.

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