'Unofficial' report on Maval firing tabled before DC

Aug 29, 2012, 08:15 IST | Priyankka Deshpande

5-member independent committee submits report to District Collector (DC), claims incident was based on government's assumption that farmers were not interested in agriculture

A five-member committee comprising of two social workers, a legal expert, an educationist and a hydrogeologist submitted a report on their findings related to the Maval firing incident to the District Collector on Friday.

According to their finding, the episode was brought about as a result of the state government’s assumption that farmers in the area were not lifting water from the Pavana river, as they had no interest in agriculture anymore.

Fire: A police personnel fires a tear gas shell to control a mob of angry farmers in Maval. File Pic

Reacting on the report, District Collector Vikas Deshmukh said that the committee, which submitted the report was not the official committee set up by the state government. “It was a committee comprising of NGOs and we will try to invite them for further discussion on this issue in future,” said Deshmukh.

This had led the state government to take a decision to divert water from Pavana to Pimpri-Chinchwad, subsequently leading to the August 2, 2012 agitation, which left three farmers dead and 19 others injured when the police opened fire on the protesters.

The five-member committee consisting of social workers Vidya Bal and Shripad Dharmadhikari, legal expert Jaya Sagade, educationist DN Dhangare and hydrogeologist Dr Mukund Ghare found that the farmers, who possessed legal license for lifting water from the Pavana river, could not do so for the past few years because of frequent load shedding.

This gave the state government the impression that the farmers were not interested in farming, leading it (state government) to take the decision to reroute supply to Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Vidya Bal said that the committee also found that protocol had not been followed while dealing with the protesters. “It was noticed that instead of using mob-dispersal tactics like water cannons, tear gas or lathi-charge, the police opened fire,” Bal said.

She added that according to the committee’s report, it was observed that the police force was also not trained to handle that type of situation.

“The protesters had already informed the police about holding their protest, so it was expected that a sufficient task force would be present at the spot. Also, instead of opening fire to disperse the mob, the police should have detained the protesters and removed them from the spot,” Bal said.

The report also recommended that the closed pipeline decision should be withdrawn immediately and action be taken against those police officers found guilty of opening fire. 

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