Revenue Minister’s Narayan Rane’s son, Nitesh, and 12 others were held after a protest against water cuts outside the civic headquarters turned violent on Thursday.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 1) Vishwas Nangre Patil said they were charged with rioting, damage to public property, preventing a public servant from discharging his duty and trespass. They were later released on bail of Rs 5,000 each.
“According to a high court order, protestors should wait at Azad Maidan while their representative meets with the authorities. Instead, they gathered near Metro cinema and walked to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC),” said Police Sub-Inspector Arjun Kengar, of the Azad Maidan police. “They fell on me. As I pushed them off, they started hitting me and other policemen with flagpoles. That’s when we lathi-charged them.”
This was the second violent protest against water cuts. About a fortnight ago, Shiv Sena activists had attacked the chief hydraulic engineer’s office in Chembur. “We are protesting against water cuts and will continue to do so till the city gets 24-hour supply,” Nitesh said before the lathi charge.
Veeral Dholakia (30), member of Swabhiman Sanghatana, a non-profit organisation led by Rane, died during the lathi charge. It was not clear whether he died of an injury or a heart attack. “Just as Nitesh was seeking a reduction in the water cut, we were informed about the mob going out of control. He rushed down,” said Ashish Kumar Singh, additional municipal commissioner.
“Rane asked for a reduction in water cuts from the current 15 per cent to 5 to 10 per cent. He also complained about water theft and leaks. We are working on those problems, but the theft is not from our reservoirs,” said Singh.
Among those injured was Prithmesh Kolambkar (27), the son of Congress MLA Kalidas Kolambkar. Among the others injured were Chetan Solanki (28), Gulab Latki (40), Sachin Obale (35), Mohammad Umar Gazul (50), Supriya Wavalkar (37), Harshad Gazi (27), Awadoot Kashid (38) and Shailesh Pednekar (32).