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Sunday, August 14, 2011

PUNE FORCEFUL LAND ACQUISITIONS: After Mawal incident, R.R. Patil again in the firing line!

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Meena Menon, The Hindu / MUMBAI, August 14, 2011.

In one month, Maharashtra witnessed three instances of police firing over three weeks, which coincided with the monsoon session of the Legislature. On Friday, when the session ended in chaos, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and his Deputy Ajit Pawar (NCP) pointed to a planned conspiracy in the latest firing at Mawal in Pune district, in which three farmers were killed. The farmers were protesting against diversion of water from the Pawna dam through a pipeline to the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC).The government initially defended the police action but when television channels aired footage of the August 9 protest, it had no choice but to suspend at least eight policemen, who were seen attacking private vehicles or firing at the fleeing farmers. Mr. Chavan said a high-level inquiry by a retired Bombay High Court judge was ordered and that was the maximum the government could do.
Home Minister R.R. Patil too defended the police and even brought in a twist to the situation, saying the first firing came from a private vehicle. The bullet which injured a bystander was sent for examination. He, however, admitted that the police failed to prevent the protest from turning violent despite a heavy deployment of force.
No excuse
While the government seeks refuge in the conspiracy theory, it has no excuse for the firing sans warning, as local villagers have pointed out. Mr. Chavan, after the Mumbai bomb blasts last month, openly said he wished that the Home department were with the Congress. This time too the Home department has come in for strong criticism. Right from July 25 when the police opened fire at protesters after a truck mowed down Warkaris returning from a pilgrimage on the Jalna-Ambad highway, the Opposition has been clamouring for the resignation of Mr. Patil. Opposition leaders even met the Governor demanding the dismissal of the government.

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