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Jaitapur boils after activist's death

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Jaitapur Protest March

MUMBAI: An activist, who had been protesting against the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, died on Saturday after being hit by a Sumo. The activist, Irfan Qazi (40), was on his way to pick up his kids from school when the vehicle rammed into his scooter

at Nate village in Rajapur taluka of Ratnagiri, around 275 km from Mumbai. A police officer, who had finished his duty and was on his way home, was in the Sumo. Qazi was rushed to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

As news of Qazi's death spread, hundreds of villagers from Jaitapur took to streets in protest. Alleging that the accident was 'deliberate', the villagers blocked the roads for over five hours. Policemen, who were pelted with stones, had to resort to lathicharge to bring the situation under control. Five policemen were injured and two of the officers had to be admitted to a hospital.

The police ruled out any kind of ulterior motive in the accident "as of now". "We have to investigate the facts and only then can we come to some conclusion. We have lodged a case of negligent driving against the Sumo driver,'' Pradeep Raskar, superintendent of police (Ratnagiri), said. Qazi was the nephew of Rajapur Congress leader Saifuddin Qazi. The Qazis were involved in the recent protests against the upcoming nuclear plant at Jaitapur.

Activists alleged that in the past, attempts were made to force villagers to withdraw their protests against the plant. "We feel that Irfan was bumped off. We want the state government to launch an immediate inquiry into the incident," said Dr Vivek Bide of the Ratnagiri-based Zilla Jagrut Manch.

Meanwhile, villagers have said that they would not give in to strong-arm tactics for land acquisition. "Of the 2,280 farmers, only 100-odd have accepted the cheques. Most of them are still holding on to their land as they feel they would be left homeless. Besides, the compensation being offered is a pittance for the fertile land where Alphonso and cashew have been grown for hundreds of years,'' said Pradeep Indulkar, head of the Konkan anti-nuclear power project committee.

Early this month, the Union ministry of environment and forests gave eco-clearance to the project.  

Source: News-Times of India, Picture-The Hindu

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