Innocent men arrested in Ganesha idol theft case:

On March 24, a gang of robbers attacked the two watchmen at the Ganesh temple at Dive Agar, in Raigad district, and fled with the ancient 1.5 kg gold idol.

Last Updated: May 03, 2012, 20:45 PM IST

Mumbai: Four of the six men arrested in connection with the theft of the gold Ganesha idol from Dive Agar temple belonged to `Pardhi` community (a nomadic tribe) and were not the real culprits, Maharashtra BJP claimed here on Thursday.

"The four men arrested in the Dive Agar theft case belong to the Pardhi community, and they are not the real culprits. The real culprits are still at large," state BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said.

One of the arrested men was a class-four employee in Pune Municipal Corporation, he added.

"We don`t trust Home Minister RR Patil. Police are misleading the people and have not arrested the real thieves," Bhandari said.

On March 24, a gang of robbers attacked the two watchmen at the Ganesh temple at Dive Agar, in Raigad district, and fled with the ancient 1.5 kg gold idol, estimated to be worth Rs 50 lakh. One of the watchmen died in the attack.

The leaders of Pardhi community would launch a 3-day hunger-strike from May 7 to put forth their issues before the government, Bhandari said.

"The Pardhis will stage a 3-day hunger strike at Azad Maidan to highlight the atrocities committed by the police and to raise their issues," Bhandari said.

If the issues were not addressed, they would intensify the agitation in July, he added.

"Labelling entire Pardhi community as criminals is not justified. Whenever a theft takes place, they are the ones to be accused," said Dnyaneshwar Bhosle, an activist working for the Pardhi community.

PTI