President's Khadki land stir: 500 signatures on day 1 of campaign

Supporting the demand to cancel the allotment of defence land in Khadki to President Pratibha Patil, over 500 people yesterday put their signatures down on paper to show they favoured the utilisation of the land for providing homes to injured jawans and widows of war martyrs.

The signature campaign was initiated by two city-based organisations, Justice For Jawans and Green Thumb Environmental Group. The campaign was conducted at the District Collector’s Office.

Count me in: A man signs the charter of demands during the campaign conducted opposite the Collector’s Office yesterday. Pic/Krunal Gosavi 

The campaign was led by Lt Col Suresh Patil (Retired), Commandar Ravindra Pathak (Retired) and Anup Avasthi. Fifty activists working for the two forums were present for the campaign that started at 11.30 am and went on till 6 pm.

The campaign will be continued today at the same venue.
Lt Col Patil, the chief trustee of Justice for Jawans and Green Thumb, said the response was phenomenal and over 500 people, including ex-servicemen and physically challenged jawans, supported the cause by signing in favour of the forums’ demand to use the land for needy jawans and widows of war martyrs. “We also got strong reactions from people against the cutting of trees on the land where the President’s retirement home is coming up in Khadki. All these trees were local species,” he said.

Lt Col Patil said the success of the campaign showed the people were with them. “This is our second campaign to get public opinion on getting back the land given to the President. Our campaign also got the signature od a visually challenged Punekar,” he said.

Anup Avasti from Justice For Jawans said: “Veteran women activist Vidya Bal and her Marathi magazine group Miloon Saryajani extended their wholehearted support for our cause ad also condemned the cutting of trees. Bal was of the opinion that land should have given to the widows of war martyrs on top priority. Ravi Devang from Shetkari Sanghatana also signed with his supporters. Signature campaigns were also conducted in Yerawada, Chinchwad and ex-servicemen’s residential areas.” 

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