A farmer died in police firing at Sangli-Pachwamail Road in Sangli district after an agitation protesting against the arrest Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana leader and MP Raju Shetty turned violent yesterday, police said.
Five bullets had hit farmer Chandrakant Nalawade (36), a resident of Vasgade village, and doctors at Civil Hospital pronounced him dead before admission, according to Sangli police.
While in another related incident farmer Pundalik Kokate died after he tried to pierce a truck tyre with a sharp object during a similar agitation in Indapur. The sand laden truck’s tyre burst, and the truck fell on him crushing him fatally.
The farmer’s agitation has been going on since the last six days under the leadership of Kolhapur MP Raju Shetty. They were protesting 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.
Objecting to the price by the factories, Shetty on Sunday had warned against blocking roads in the entire state. Yesterday morning, as a preventive measure police arrested Shetty and his associates Sadabhau Khot and Satish Kakade, along with other 125 agitators from Indapur, before the protest began.
Angered with the arrest, the mob started attacking police vans and ST buses at Shiroli toll plaza in Sangli district, Ankali and Vasgade villages. Initially, the police resorted to firing in the air, but when the crowd started pelting stones at them and were about to set a police van on fire, they opened fire, which led to the death of Nalawade.
In Indapur, farmers stoned seven ST buses and two ST buses were set ablaze by the agitators. Superintendent of police (Rural) Manoj Kumar Lohiya informed that during this protest Kokate had died. “Kokate, who was also agitating, tried to pierce the tyre of a truck which was full of sand. Suddenly the tyre burst and he came under the heavy truck which caused his death,” said Lohiya.
Lohiya also informed that in Norote Wasti, Indapur, a police inspector, Ashok Pawar, and two constables were injured when the mob tried to set fire to a police vehicle.
Superintendent of Police (Sangli) Dilip Sawant stated that the farmers had provoked the policemen to open fire. “The fire was not directly opened on the farmers, but it was first fired in the air to disperse the crowd,” said Sawant.
Local Shetkari Sanghatna leader said the policemen opened fire without any warning, and that they fired bullets before shooting tear gas shells. They said that since the police aimed directly at the farmers, five bullets pierced Nalawade.