On June 1, 40-year-old Vasant Rupnar was on his way home to Solapur from Mumbai, when the bus he was travelling in was caught in the violence triggered by objectionable posts on social networking site Facebook. As the protesters resorted to stone-pelting in Katraj area, a stone hurled at the bus hit Rupnar, a truck driver who was going home to admit his children to school. He slipped into a coma after a surgery and and his condition is said to be critical at a hospital in Solapur.
There was tension in various parts of the city on the day as various groups protested to the objectionable posts about Maratha king Shivaji and late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray on Facebook, the links of which were further circulated through phone messengers.
According to Bharati Vidyapeeth police, a group of local youths had gathered on the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass near Wonder City residential society. “Around 1.30 am, they started hurling stones at the buses passing from the area. Rupnar was travelling in a Volvo bus and one of the stones hit him on the head. Two other passengers also sustained minor injuries,” said senior inspector M B Chavan.
According to the police, the bus driver took Rupnar to a hospital in Hadapsar from there he was referred to Sassoon hospital. “A surgery was performed on him at the Sassoon hospital but his condition did not improve. He slipped into a coma. His family shifted him to a government hospital in Solapur so that they could take better care of him. Doctors have told us that his condition is critical.” said Nilesh Dhumal, Rupnar’s friend.
Dhumal added: “He works for a transport company in Mumbai and was on the way to Sangole in Solapur district, his hometown, for his children’s admission in school and to attend a wedding in the family.” Rupnar’s brother Suresh said: “His condition is deteriorating. What wrong had my brother done to anyone? Why do poor people like us suffer in such fights?”
Rupnar’s wife and two children live in Sangole.
Assistant inspector S G Chavan of Bharti Vidyapeeth police station, who is probing the case, said: “Based on information, we later arrested nine members of a local group Shivshahi Pratishthan. It is not a registered group.” Police said the incident had no communal angle prima facie and was a fallout of some local youths resorting to stone pelting on public property.