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'Illegal detention' by ATS 'terrorising' Muslim youths: Pawar

Mumbai: NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Tuesday accused Maharashtra ATS of "terrorising" Muslim youths on "mere suspicion" and detaining them illegally, sparking criticism from BJP and AIMIM that he is taking "opportunistic stance" for political gains.
 
Addressing a press meet here, Pawar said a delegation of various Muslim outfits met him recently and aired their concern over the youths from the community being "terrorised" on mere suspicion of having links with ISIS and other banned organisations.
 
"A 28-member delegation representing various Muslim organisations met me recently and complained that the ATS is terrorising Muslim youths in the name of ISIS and other banned organisations. This delegation strongly condemned ISIS and said the youths of their community would never support their activities," Pawar said.
 
He claimed that there have been several instances, especially in Marathwada region, where youths had been picked up by the Anti-Terrorism Squad(ATS) on grounds of suspicion and detained "illegally."
 
"According to the law, an arrested person has to be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours. But there have been cases where even after 120 hours the detained persons are kept in some isolated location and not let out. The government needs to take serious cognisance of this," the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
 
The arrested should be immediately produced before a magistrate, there should be an immediate chargesheet and they should be tried in a fast track court, he said. "A criminal has no caste or creed. A particular community should not be labelled (as criminal)," he said.
 
Reacting to Pawar's statement, BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said the NCP leader has often played "communal and casteist politics" and has "no moral right to give sermon." Waris Pathan, AIMIM MLA, said Pawar was suffering from "selective amnesia" and sought to know what he had done to protect innocent Muslims implicated in cases when he was in power in the state.
 
Referring to Malegaon case, Pawar said Muslim youths were acquitted by court after they had languished eight years in jail. This should not happen to others. On the Dalit Atrocities Act, he said that it should not be misused against innocents. Commenting on the government's proposed internal security law, Pawar said these (the BJP) are the same people who took a moral high ground against the Emergency imposed in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
 
"The government has changed and so the system of making law, it seems. The thumb rule has been that the CM and his Council of Ministers decide to make a particular law and ask his Secretary to frame it. Here it is reverse," he said, referring to Additional Chief Secretary (Home) K P Bakshi's contention that the proposed law had been made at the secretarial level and there were no discussions at the ministerial level.
 
"This is a new Emergency-like situation the government wants to impose on the people. The time is not far when the government will have to bear what we bore in 1977 post-Emergency," Pawar said.
Slamming Pawar, BJP spokesperson said the NCP leader for the last few days has been playing two communal cards. "He is trying to create rift between Dalit and Maratha community on the one hand and playing the minority card on the other."
 
Referring to the suggestions made by Pawar on the procedures to be followed after the arrest, Bhandari asked "had his party followed this when it was in power for 15 years ?" AIMIM legislator Pathan said Pawar's statement showed the "highest level of hypocrisy on his part". "Pawar seems to be forgetting it was their government that was in power when Aurangbad and Malegoan cases came up. Why was not chargesheet filed in them for five to six years. Why they did not take any action when the lives of countless innocent Muslims spoiled," he added.

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