Hundreds of villagers protesting the formation of the proposed Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation beat up Member of Legislative Assembly Hitendra Thakur and a Member of Parliament Baliram Jadhav at Vagoli village near Vasai on Sunday.
Heavy security has been deployed in the area. Twenty-two people have been arrested in connection with the attack.
“More arrest are expected soon,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police, A. Chaughle.
The police said hundreds of villagers had gathered near a naka (crossroad) at Vagoli village on Sunday to garner support for a bandh against the proposed municipal corporation. They had called a bandh on Monday against the inclusion of 53 villages in the corporation.
Tension mounted when around 9.30 pm, Thakur, accompanied by MP from Palghar, Jadhav, and some of their aides were returning home after watching a Gujrati film Radha Ki Badha.
Thakur, the younger brother of Dawood Ibrahim’s aide Bhai Thakur, is leading the initiative of the formation of the proposed municipal corporation.
Villagers told Hindustan Times that Thakur’s supporters, who appeared to be drunk, hurled abuses at them when they were trying to put up a banner for the bandh. This led to the clash between the villagers and Thakur’s supporters.
“They were drunk and unnecessarily harassed our boys, who were marshalling in the area to gather support for Monday’s bandh,” said Vilas Vichare, one of the villagers present during the incident.
In a complaint lodged with the Nalasopara police, Umesh Naik, an aide of Thakur, alleged that a mob of over 200 villagers were waiting near Vagoli village to attack Thakur’s convoy.
“The attack was preplanned by Thakur’s rivals,” Naik said.
The police said the villagers had first switched off the streetlights and blocked the road.
An aide of Thakur alleged that the villagers pelted stones at the convoy, injuring Thakur and his supporters.
The attackers then allegedly rang the bell of a nearby church, following which around 1,000 villagers joined the attackers and beat up Thakur and his supporters, another witness said.
Some local journalists and eight policemen were also injured.
Thakur and Jadhav, who had suffered head injuries, were admitted to Sanjivni hospital in Virar. They were discharged on Monday, the police said.
Police sources said three companies of State Reserve Police Force were rushed to Vasai, which observed a complete bandh on Monday. The villagers had blocked the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway in the morning.