Ten minutes before 1pm when the muezzin made the call for namaaz at Sakhri Nate village in Ratnagiri district, an ambulance carrying Tabrez Sayekar’s body drove into the narrow lane that led to his home.
On Monday, Tabrez succumbed to bullet injuries after the police opened fire following violent protests in the fishing village.
Even though the post mortem on the thirty-year-old was conducted at the Ratnagiri Civil Hospital on Tuesday, his family claimed his body only on Wednesday after the district administration accepted two of the three demands made by his wife Shireen in an application submitted to MB Gaikwad, the district collector.
In her letter, Shireen demanded for a judicial inquiry into the incident, that those guilty of police firing be punished and the power plant proposal be scrapped.
While the government has ordered for a magisterial inquiry, Gaikwad said those found guilty in the inquiry will be punished. Regarding the the nuclear plant, Gaikwad’s response read, “Since the power plant is a policy decision, I will forward your letter to the chief minister.”
Fearing trouble, the police made arrangements for the body to leave the hospital premises from the back gate. The atmosphere in the village was tense. Around 200 policemen guarded the Sakhri Nate police station. None of them entered the village.
Villagers came in large numbers for the last rites. Four vehicles comprising Sena leaders were who were at the funeral gave Tabrez’s family Rs two lakh cash.
During the prayers at Jama Masjid, the high priest called Tabrez a martyr. “He will be gifted for dying. What happened has been planned by god. So we must accept it.”
At his home, Tabrez’s father Abdul Sattar, 55, spoke of how his son was arrested for the jail bharo andolan in December. “On the day of the firing, he went to the police station when the initial violence took place but returned. He had lunch and rushed to the spot again,” said Sattar who like Tabrez repairs nets and earns Rs 250 per day.
Firmly against the plant, Sattar said, “If fishing activity is affected by the plant, who will give us jobs? I don’t even have a son to earn now.”