A DAY after violent protests by villagers on the Kalyan-Hajimalang highway, in which 25 people including 12 policemen sustained injuries and at least five police vehicles were torched, the police have identified at least 15 people who played a major role in the violence. Normalcy was restored in the area Friday.
The main accused, all local villagers, had held village committee meetings prior to the protests and “tyres and wooden batons” had been arranged, allegedly to attack the police. Most of the men from these villages are currently on the run and the Thane police are likely to arrest over a 100 people for the attacks. The police are also checking if there were any lapses on part of the police personnel in handling the attacks.
Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “We have names of at least 10-15 people involved in the attack. However, currently, most men from the villages involved in the attack are on the run. We should be able to arrest
Singh added that the use of pellet guns helped the police team in a big way to control the violent mob. “As soon as four rounds were fired from pellet guns, the crowd fled from the spot. To my knowledge, this is only the second time a pellet gun was used in the state to disperse crowds and it was effective. No one sustained any serious injury and the crowd was under control,” he said.
Lauding his force for showing “tremendous restraint” in handling the aggressive crowd, the police commissioner said they would check for any lapses, if any, on part of the police that might have led to the incident. “If any policeman is found guilty, administrative action will follow,” Singh added.
Another officer said they were in the process of tracking down the accused who had all fled from the villages. “Currently, there are only women and children in most of these villages. The information we have is that the decision to attack the police, to make a statement, was taken at a meeting which took place in the villages on Wednesday,” the officer added.
The violence took place on Thursday around 9 am when around 5,000 villagers from five villages in Kalyan blocked the Kalyan-Hajimalang highway. The villagers were protesting after being told to vacate over 1,600 acres of land belonging to the Navy. They attacked policemen with stones and set at least five police vehicles on fire. A total of 12 policemen, including an assistant commissioner of police, and 13 villagers sustained injuries.
The road had been out of bounds from 9 am to around 2pm after which vehicles were allowed to ply. The crowd was eventually controlled by the police around 11.30am, with the help of Riot Control Police and paramilitary forces.
The police have registered FIRs against unidentified accused currently on charges ranging from attempt to murder to arson to obstructing a public servant from discharging duty.