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35 people from Maha threaten to commit suicide outside Mantralaya; Mumbai cops on toes

The development comes after an 84-year-old farmer from Dhule district, Dharma Patil, consumed a poisonous chemical outside the Mantralaya in January

mumbai Updated: Mar 08, 2018 15:56 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Maharashtra farmers,mantralaya suicide
(HT File Photo)

Sending the Mumbai police into a tizzy, 35 people, including farmers and citizens, from various parts of the state have written letters to their respective collectors, threatening to commit suicide outside the Vidhan Bhavan during the ongoing budget session.

The development comes after an 84-year-old farmer from Dhule district, Dharma Patil, consumed a poisonous chemical outside the Mantralaya in January. He died within a week. Patil was protesting against inadequate compensation for his land that was acquired for a power project.

Following the incident, the Opposition and activists upbraided the Devendra Fandnavis-led government for its insensitivity towards the plight of farmers. A spate of farmer suicides has earned the state the dubious distinction of ‘farmer suicide capital’ of the country.

A substantial number of the senders of these letters are from Patil’s Dhule district, though their issues are not related to land acquisition or farm debt, top sources in the Mumbai police claimed.

“The issues highlighted by these people relate to their perceived injustice over a range of issues from civil to criminal,” claimed a source privy to the content of the letters.

For example, a woman from a district near Mumbai has threatened to commit suicide as she claims that her husband was wrongfully arrested in a rape case. In another instance, a farmer from an interior district blames the police for not prosecuting his brother for forcibly occupying his share of land.

“These people feel suicide is the last resort to highlight their problems before the administration,” the source said, suspecting that Dharma Patil’s suicide has set a dangerous precedent.

Collectors of various districts have received the letters over a period of time. They have forwarded them to the Mumbai police for precautionary measures.

After receiving letters, the Mumbai police have written back to the district collectors and superintendents of police to redress grievances of the aggrieved people on a priority basis. “They should also try to convince the people to change their travel plans (to Mumbai),” the source said.

In addition, the police have started collecting personal information of the senders, including their phone numbers and photographs, by contacting sarpanchs of their villages. They feared that some of them have already reached Mumbai.

“Their photographs have been fed to the hard disk at the CCTV control room. This will help us identify them in the crowd in south Mumbai. Moreover, our personnel will keep an eye on visitors outside Vidhan Bhavan and Mantralaya,” another source said.

Manoj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police (Zone I), under whose jurisdiction Mantralaya falls, said security has been beefed up in south Mumbai for the budget session. He, however, refused to comment on security precautions in view of the letters.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 15:55 IST