Two-days after 14 locals were arrested in connection with an incident of alleged rioting two months ago at Jaitapur in Ratnagiri District, Shiv Sena executive president, Uddhav Thackeray met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and expressed his dissatisfaction over the arrests.
“We are standing by the villagers. The arrests that took place are unfair and the police have acted unlawfully in this case by pulling innocent people out of their homes and arresting them,” said Thackeray on Thursday.
Thackeray will visit Jaitapur soon to meet the villagers, an indication that the issue is taking a political turn. Chavan had visited the area last week to convince the opposing villagers to give up their land, in lieu of compensation. However, the visit alienated locals further as industries minister Narayan Rane tried to aggressively stamp out the anti-project demonstrators.
After the protests, Sena decided to up its ante against the project and express solidarity with the locals. Thackeray, after his hour-long meeting with Chavan said, “Shiv Sena will be standing by the villagers. The compensation package to be given to the villagers is something that should be left to them (villagers)”.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a Congress ally, is also wary of the local sentiment, though officially has supported the project. Ratnagiri’s guardian minister Bhaskar Jadhav of NCP shied away from the public meeting organised by the Congress anticipating trouble. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, at a meeting near Jalgaon on Wednesday, said he would visit Jaitapur to initiate a dialogue with locals and negotiate the best possible compensation. However, NCP president Madhukar Pichad said, “The party supports the project 100%. Pawar’s visit has not been finalised but we are willing to go and talk to the locals.”