An engineering student from Walchand Engineering College, Solapur, may be learning new things during his current course, but one law of physics — what goes up must come down — is definitely etched forever in his mind. On Wednesday, the cops in Ashta village police station in Sangli district were facing the growing aggression of villagers gathered outside demanding that their associates and friends, who were being detained, be released.
Karandwadi village resident Pravin Patil (20) was visiting his family for Diwali, and was hit by a stray bullet when police fired three shots in the air to control a mob of farmers after they had attacked Ashta police station, damaged several vehicles and set ablaze a police jeep. Pravin’s brother Pramod Patil said that he and Pravin had gone to their uncle’s residence at Aaitore village.
“While returning back to Karandwadi, we saw a huge crowd pelting stones at Ashta police station. Due to the traffic congestion, our two-wheeler couldn’t go any further and therefore, we parked it at the roadside. A bullet pierced Pravin’s left leg,” said Pramod. Pramod claimed that his brother was not an agitator, also adding that the bullet fired by the police had hit his siblings’ leg by accident.
The incident took place when a mob of farmers pelted stones at a tanker in Ashta village. Chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna at Ashta village, Gundabhau Awati, said that the farmers were agitating peacefully, demanding the release of protesters detained by the police for pelting stones at a tanker, which was carrying empty gas cylinders.
“Police fired three bullets in the air and one pierced Pravin’s left leg, who wasn’t an agitator,” said Awati. Dilip Sawant, superintendent of police, Sangli district, said that the police had to open fire, as a huge mob of protesters started pelting stones at police vans and Ashta police station. “When the police fired in the air, one bullet accidentally hit Patil’s leg. The police didn’t intend to target anyone,” said Sawant.
On Monday, farmer Chandrakant Nalawade was shot dead in police firing at Vasagade village in Sangli. His friends claim that he wasn’t an agitator and had gone to the Sangli-Pachwamail road just to see why the crowd had gathered, when police pumped five bullets in him. Farmers have been protesting for the last few days against refusal of cooperative sugar factories in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra to give Rs 3,000 per tonne as first advance on sugarcane purchase this season. Factories have agreed to pay Rs 2,300 per tonne.
Meanwhile, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader and MP Raju Shetty, on Monday, appealed to workers of his organisation to keep the movement alive through Satyagraha and not to indulge in clashes with police. “Some time police have to take stern action, but they are only performing their duty. Hence, a struggle should be avoided between farmers and police,” said Shetty.
The farmers’ leader who is in judicial custody following his arrest on November 12, met with BJP MLA Girish Bapat who visited him at Yerawada Jail yesterday. Shetty sent a written appeal to the workers of Shetkari Sanghatna through Bapat.