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Rediff.com  » News » PIX: Anti-Jaitapur N-plant protest turns violent

PIX: Anti-Jaitapur N-plant protest turns violent

Last updated on: April 19, 2011 22:43 IST

Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant turns violent

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A district hospital was ransacked and a few buses were torched on Tuesday in violence during the Shiv Sena bandh in Ratnagiri against police firing that claimed the life of one of the locals protesting the controversial Jaitapur nuclear power project.

Maharashtra government ordered a magisterial probe into Monday's firing at the project site even as Home Minister

and Nationalist Congress Party leader R R Patil hinted at a Shiv Sena conspiracy behind the protests against the proposed 9,900 MW nuclear plant. Fresh protests were also reported from the area on Tuesday.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh accused the Shiv Sena of "politicising" the Jaitapur issue and said that what happened there was "most depressing" and that it caused him "great anguish."

He hoped that issues surrounding the project could be discussed in a peaceful manner.

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Image: Anti nuclear plant protestors clash with police in Ratnagiri on Tuesday
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant turns violent

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Patil while ordering the magisterial inquiry also made it clear that the probe would look into whether the violent protests at the plant site and the attack on Sakhrinate police station was "politically motivated and part of a pre-planned conspiracy."

Patil, who made the announcement in the state assembly, however did not name anyone but voiced the government's resolve that the project sees the light of the day.

The project with six nuclear rectors of 1,600 MW each when built will be world's largest nuclear plant.

The Congress while suggesting that there could be a conspiracy behind the anti-nuclear power project agitation in Jaitapur cautioned people against "attempts by forces inimical to India's economic growth".


Image: Protestors burn tyres and block highway during agitation
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant turns violent

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Prohibitory orders were promulgated under section 144 CrPC in the coastal Ratnagiri district when the bandh turned violent after protesters resorted to arson.

Angry protesters vandalised the district civil hospital where the post-mortem of the police firing victim Tabrez Abdul Sayanekar was to be conducted, set afire a few state transport corporation buses and some vehicles and also burnt tyres to block Ratnagiri-Kolhapur highway, police said. Stones were also pelted at the hospital.

Police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters.

Tabrez was killed in police firing at Sakhrinate village when around 600-700 locals protesting against the project, attacked the local police station.

The body of Tabrez has not been claimed so far by his kin and locals, who are demanding an announcement by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for scrapping the project.


Image: Police lathicharges agitating protestors in Ratnagiri
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant turns violent

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The crowd, which had started collecting outside the hospital since Tuesday morning, grew restive as the day wore on and ransacked a portion of the government hospital.

Shops were shut and most vehicles were off the roads. during the bandh.

Senior Sena leader Gajanan Kirtikar, along with MLAs Bharat Gogawale, Sadanand Chawan and Parshuram Uparkar met the superintendent of police and district collector and demanded that the local revenue official (Prant) Ajit Pawar, who had ordered police firing, be suspended and charged with murder.

According to Home Minister Patil, firing orders were given as a "last resort."


Image: Protestors burn the effigy of Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant turns violent

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The Shiv Sena delegation also demanded hat postmortem of Sejkar be videographed and conducted in presence of members of 'Manvadhikar Sameeti.'

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray warned that the state's Congress-NCP government will have to pay a "heavy price" for police firing.

"It is time for chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to pack up and go home," Thackeray said.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the death of a person in police firing or otherwise is always regrettable and no party sensitive towards peoples's aspirations will ever condone it.

"But what has to be seen is whether the agitation was based on some real concerns or completely imaginery concerns are being stoked by vested interests," he said in New Delhi.

Condemning the police firing, the Communist Party of India-Marxist demanded an immediate halt to the project in the light of the crisis which has developed in some of the nuclear power reactors in Japan.


Image: Agitators ransack Ratnagiri district hospital while protesting the death of a person in police firing
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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Protest against Jaitapur nuclear plant turns violent

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Accusing Shiv Sena of making him "khalnayak" in the Jaitapur episode, Ramesh said looking into the environmental aspects of the project is the only mandate of his ministry and maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the state government.

"Shiv Sena has a long track record of politicising all issues. This is the same Shiv Sena, which vowed to throw the Enron Project in the Arabian Sea in 1993 if I recall right. But when they came to power in 1995, they went out of their way to give approval," the minister told reporters in New Delhi while reacting to a question on Shiv Sena's allegations against him.

BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy said nuclear power generation is subject to a major debate in the country now and that issues post-Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan is a matter of concern.


Image: Anti-nuclear plant protests turn violent in Ratnagiri
Photographs: Sahil Salve
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