Maval firing: Maharashtra withdraws criminal cases on 185 farmers

The Pune rural police had lodged criminal cases against 260 farmers who were booked on charges of rioting during their protest against the construction of a pipeline from Pavana reservoir to Pimpri-Chinchwad.

pune Updated: Nov 26, 2018 15:48 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Maval firing,Maharashtra,criminal cases
The Bombay high court pulled up the state government for letting off SP Karnik with just a warning in connection with the firing.(HT Photo )

Seven years after the police opened fire at a farmers’ protest at Maval, which led to the killing of three protestors and the injuring of 10, the Maharashtra government has withdrawn criminal cases against 185 farmers, registered in 2011.

Additional sessions judge S N Sonawane allowed an application, filed by additional public prosecutor advocate Rajesh Kavedia, under section 321 for withdrawal of prosecution.

Defence counsel Prasad Kulkarni filed a say and submitted that the application be allowed, after which, judge Sonawane granted permission to the prosecution to withdraw the case against all the accused in an order dated November 22.

The Pune rural police had lodged criminal cases against 260 farmers who were booked on charges of rioting during their protest against the construction of a pipeline from Pavana reservoir to Pimpri-Chinchwad. The farmers had even staged a road blockade on the Pune-Mumbai expressway at Maval, Pune district.

The court order states that all the accused are “discharged for the offences punishable under IPC section 307,332,333,353,435,341,148,149,427,120 B,224,201 and offences under section 8(B) of National Highway Act, Sec 7 of Criminal Amendment Act,u/s 3 and 4 of Public Property Damage Act and u/s 37( 1) (3), 135,136 r/w 134 of Bombay Police Act.”

The court also ordered that the bail bonds stood cancelled.

The order further states: “It appears that the accused are absent since long. It is contended by the APP that as per the meeting dated August 8, 2018, held by the home department of the Maharashtra government, superintendent of rural police requested to file an application for permission to withdraw from prosecution.”

At least 1,200 farmers from Maval taluka opposed the Maharashtra government’s project to commission a pipeline from Pavana dam to PCMC. On August 9, 2011, the farmers gathered on the Mumbai-Pune expressway and as part of a rasta roko and indulged in stone pelting. The mob damaged vehicles and even gheraoed police officers on duty. The rural police, then under superintendent of police (SP) Sandeep Karnik, opened fire on the protestors to prevent them from resorting to violence. Three protesters were killed and 10 were injured. Fifty police personnel and 10 officers were injured during the violent clashes. Karnik was transferred after the incident.

The Bombay high court pulled up the state government for letting off SP Karnik with just a warning in connection with the firing. In 2012, the state appointed a one-member commission headed by Justice (retired) M G Gaikwad to probe the incident. The commission’s inquiry concluded that the firing was unjustified and indicted four officers: SP Sandeep Karnik, inspectors Ashok Patil, Yashwant Gawari and PSI Ganesh Mane. In 2015, activist advocate Ishwar Khandelwal filed a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking action against the police officials, including Karnik, for opening fire at the protesting mob and killing three of them. The PIL was filed after the HC refused to intervene in the state government’s decision to give Karnik a clean chit. In 2017, a farmers’ delegation under the leadership of Maval MLA Bala Bhegade met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and requested him to withdraw the cases against the farmers.

First Published: Nov 26, 2018 15:48 IST