Farmers in Mugaon are at their wits end after an advasi farmer was allegedly stripped and beaten by security guards at Lavasa Corporation while he was working in his fields.
The matter gained champions after the police allegedly refused file a case, but instead showed favour towards to Lavasa Corporation. Bandubhau Valhekar was allegedly stripped and beaten by the security guards 15 days ago, and when he approached the Paud police to file a complaint, they allegedly turned the case in favour of the other party.
After getting wind of the issue, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar described the act as inhuman and alleged that the Paud police were working as security guards for Lavasa Corporation.
Patkar is also national leader of National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) that is fighting all land-related cases related to farmers and their land. According to Patkar, after Lavasa and the Narmada Dam project, now its is the newly announced Delhi-Mumbai Investment Corridor covering a total area of 3.5 lakh hectares, that is threatening farmers and theirlands.
“Lavasa is continuing work despite the court order not to make conduct any construction following instructions from the Union Environment Ministry last year. Valhekar was not only beaten up, but his signature and thumb impression was forcefully taken in front of the police by the Lavasa people. I am worried as the signatures were taken on land papers belonging to Valhekar,” Patkar said.
He added that irregularities made by Lavasa would be exposed at the national level rally ‘pol khol’ in Delhi on March 17.
“Unfortunately, the central and state government is not even doing their duties, despite the court giving an order to stop work in Lavasa,” Patkar said.
Valhekar’s wife Thumabai said, “My husband was stripped and beaten like a criminal on his own land when I was away at Raigad. Whatever happens, I shall not leave my land even if it means sacrificing our lives.”
Anil Valhekar, brother of injured said, “This kind of harassment in our village is common. Farmers are beaten up by Lavasa security men for no reason. Our people are frequently taken to Puad police station forcibly and warned not to file complaints. It is difficult to face the menace every day.”
The other side
The official spokesperson of Lavasa Corporation refuted allegations saying, “Time and again activists have been making the same unsubstantiated allegations to scuttle the project. Their main aim is to misguide people and create chaos, which has led to stalling of big infrastructure projects across the country.”