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Vasai protest turns violent

mumbai Updated: Mar 06, 2010 01:02 IST
Susamma Kurian
Susamma Kurian
Hindustan Times
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Vasai MLA Vivek Pandit broke his four-day fast on Friday, after Chief Minister Ashok Chavan phoned and assured him that his demands will be looked into in eight days.

Pandit was on an indefinite hunger strike outside the tehsildar’s office to protest the inclusion of 53 villages in the newly-formed Vasai-Virar municipal corporation.

“He broke the fast after the chief minister called and told him a meeting of all concerned parties will be held soon,” said Thane District Collector A L Jarhad, who had been camping at Thane Civil Hospital along with Sena leaders Subhash Desai and Eknath Shinde, and BJP MLC Sanjay Kelkar.

Pandit had earlier been discharged from the hospital on his request. On Friday morning, though, the situation turned tense after Pandit was forcefully readmitted to the hospital, leading to violent protests in Vasai. The police used brutal force, and prohibitory orders were clamped in certain areas of the constituency.

“We got a medical report issued by government doctors saying Pandit’s condition was critical as he is diabetic and needed to be admitted to a hospital. His private practitioner seconded this,” said Superintendent of Police (Thane Rural) Madhukar Pandey.

The tehsildar reportedly ordered the police to get Pandit admitted to a hospital.

“When we went there, he refused to budge. So, we had to take him away by force. The protesters agitated against this and we had to cane them. Thirty protesters and 12 policemen were injured,” Pandey said.

Stones were pelted at Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation buses and a bus tyre was set on fire. Around 20 were arrested for rioting. One State Reserve Police Force company and 200 policemen were deployed.

Pandit said he and his family were also assaulted. At the time of his admission to the hospital, his blood pressure and pulse rate were high.

He refused treatment until he was assured that his demands would be fulfilled.

“We had challenged the July 3, 2009, notification announcing the inclusion of 53 villages in the civic body. I had met and informed the CM about our demands. He just kept buying time. When nothing was done, I went on an indefinite hunger strike on March 2,” Pandit said.

“The 53 villages fall under a green zone. If they are included in the civic body, unplanned development will take place in that zone. Not only will the villagers lose their land, even the green cover will be lost,” the Independent MLA added.