Police fires on anti-Jaitapur protestors; 1 dead
One villager was reportedly killed and five others injured in police firing during protests against setting up of a nuclear power plant at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
According to the Ratnagiri police, police had to resort to firing to quell the mob, which had taken to stone pelting.
The deceased has been identified as Tabrez Sehkar. The five injured protesters have been rushed to the Ratnagiri Civil Hospital.
According to the activists, hundreds of people from Madban, Jaitapur, Nate and other villages in the district on Monday held spontaneous protests against the 9,900 MW project.
Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said the agitators had stormed the police station when most officials were on duty at the project site in Jaitapur since the locals were to stage a demonstration there.
With inputs from PTI
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Image: Anti nuclear plant protestors confront with police in Jaitapur
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
Ramesh's statement irked villagers
Anger was brewing in the area following Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh's statement here last Friday ruling out a "rethink" on the project.
Patil said the protesters were also suspected to have decamped with some firearms and ammunition.
"A deputy superintendent of police and some constables have been injured in the incident," Patil said, adding the violent crowd set afire some police vehicles, forcing the police to fire in the air to scare the protesters away.
Image: Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
'Authorities threatening the locals'
However, as that failed to bring the situation under control, police fired at the crowd resulting in the death of Sejkar.
The minister's statement drew angry criticism from the opposition with Girish Bapat (Bharatiya Janata Party), Bala Nandgaonkar (Maharashtra Navniramn Sena) and Subhash Desai (Shiv Sena) accusing the government of not taking seriously the protests against the proposed facility.
The issue of police firing was raised in the House by Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai, who demanded a statement from the government.
Describing the firing as "shocking", Desai alleged that the authorities were putting pressure on the locals to accept the compensation and threatening them with dire consequences if they refused.
Image: People injured in the police firing treated in Ratnagiri Civil Hospital
Photographs: Sahil Salve
'Police had to fire to bring protestors under control'
The House had to be adjourned for 10 minutes and later for the day as the opposition demanded a detailed statement on the issue.
The issue also figured in the legislative council where Revenue Minister Narayan Rane said the protesters tried to forcibly enter the project site at Jaitapur and were stopped by the police, leading to stone pelting.
Police had to resort to baton charge and firing to bring the violent protesters under control, he said.
Image: Heavy police deployment at Jaitapur
Photographs: Sahil Salve
'Scrap Jaitapur project or be prepared for dire consequences'
Meanwhile, an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' on Monday warned those supporting the Jaitapur project of dire consequences.
"Why is Ramesh backing the project despite the fact that all over the world, there is opposition (to such projects)," the edit said.
Also, eminent anti-nuclear activists from different parts of the country who are opposing the proposed imported nuclear power plant at Jaitapur will undertake a road yatra from Tarapur to Jaitapur along Coastal Konkan in Maharashtra from April 23.
Aiming to increase the pressure on both Centre and state governments against the porposed six plants of 1650 MW each from the French compnay AREVA , the activists will be travelling roughly 500 km (in different vehicles) from Tarapur to Jaitapur demanding complete scrapping of the project, Vaishali Patil, convenor of Konkan Vinashkari Prakalp Virodhi Samiti told mediapersons on Monday.
Image: Site of the proposed nuclear plant at Jaitapur
'End reign of terror in Jaitapur area'
"We will also demand scrap of all new nuclear power plants and ask the state government to end reign of terror in Jaitapur area," she said adding the anti-nuclear activists will also demand from the government to invest large amount of money on renewable energy technologies.
Environmentalist Dr Vandana Shiva, former minister of state for home affairs Bhai Vaidya, Radha Bhatt, chairperson, Sarva Seva Sangh, Delhi, Journalist Praful Bidwai, educationist Dr Anil Sadgopal, Admiral Vishnu Bhagawat, Admiral L Ramdas, Dr S P Udaykumar, National Alliance of Anti-nuclear Movements are prominent among activists who are expected for the yatra.
Project-affected people from various places, such as Tarapur, Haripur (West Bengal), Kakrapar (Gujarat),are also expected to join the yatra, she said.
On April 23, the vehicular procession will start at 10 am from Tarapur in Thane district and move through Bhiwandi, Thane city to Panvel in Navi Mumbai, she added.
Image: A police-firing injured being treated at Ratnagiri civil hospital
Photographs: Sahil Salve