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Row over 'arms training' at Thane BJP MLA's school

IANS | June 02, 2019 10:19 PM

THANE: A controversy erupted over alleged 'weapons training' being imparted to students at a Mira Road town school, owned by local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Narendra Mehta, here on Sunday.

In a letter to Atul Kulkarni, Assistant Superintendent of Police (Thane Rural), the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) has alleged imparting of weapons handling training to students and has sought a probe into it.

However, the police have raised doubts over the allegation. "As per our preliminary investigations, weapons could be models and not genuine ones," Kulkarni told IANS on Sunday.

However, one of the students -- Prashant Gupta, who had posted photographs of the 'training camp' on his social media accounts, was summoned for questioning. "Our probe is likely to be completed in a day. After that we shall decide the next course of action," Kulkarni said.

According to DYFI Mira-Bhayander Secretary Sanjay Pandey, the weapons training camp was organised by the Bajrang Dal at the Seven Square Academy, set up and managed by MLA Mehta. The school also has branches in Naigaon and Thane.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, Mehta could not be contacted over phone till late evening.

Pandey said initially, when the DYFI activists approached the Mira Road police, their plea was ignored, compelling them to file a written complaint to Kulkarni, with copies of photographs of the Facebook posts.

"The pictures on the boy's Facebook account show children, some of them minors, handling rifles, guns, loading/unloading them and jumping across fires. It's not only illegal, but also dangerous for students," Pandey told IANS.

Stating that some of the pictures were not of the Mira Road school, Kulkarni said details would be revealed after completion of the police investigation.

Pandey suspects "pressures" on the police to dilute the matter since it involved an influential legislator, reportedly close to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The Chief Minister is also the in-charge of home portfolio.

"Were the weapons used in the training seized and sent for forensic analysis before the police concluded that they were models," he demanded, adding there should be a blanket ban on any form of arms training in schools.

Demanding that the Mira Road Police lodge FIR against Mehta under the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, the DYFI threatened to seek legal recourse with the police as a party in the matter.


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