Five set themselves on fire to protest RMC’s demolition drive,1 dies

While one person died in hospital,four were being treated in a critical condition even as angry mob set a public bus on fire later on.

Written by Express News Service | Rajkot | Published: April 4, 2013 5:38:02 am

Five members of a family,including three women,Wednesday set themselves ablaze in Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) office to protest the civic body’s alleged demolition drive,police said. While one person died in hospital,four were being treated in a critical condition even as angry mob set a public bus on fire later on.

Hasumati Vishwakarma,her two sons Bharat and Girish,Bharat’s wife Asha and Hasmutai’s youngest son Mahendra’s wife Rekha walked into the RMC office on Dhebar road at 12:15 pm. While the security guards of civic body were engaged in handling a group who was protesting against the demolition in their area,the family from Chhotunagar Cooperative Housing Society on Raiya Road sneaked into the building with cans of kerosene. They went up to the first floor,poured kerosene over themselves and set themselves alight outside the office of municipal commissioner to protest their possible evacuation from their home on common plot of the society,eyewitnesses said.Some eyewitnesses claimed two other persons who were with the family and also trying to immolate themselves were prevented by others present on the spot.After being engulfed by by flames,the five tried to run for safety even as others present on the premises tried to escape from the fire. Finally,fire fighters chased down the five,doused flares with fire-extinguishers and rushed them to civil hospital.

They were admitted to the burns ward where Girish died after a brief treatment.“All the five have sustained around 95 per cent burns. The four are in critical condition,” Dr Rathindra Desmukh,superintendent of Rajkot Civil Hospital,said.

The immolation bid of the five led to anger among public. A mob of around 10 people stooped a Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSTRC) bus on its way to Una in Junagadh from the city near Nagrik Bank Chowk at 2:40 pm. The mob forced passengers,driver and conductor of the bus out,poured petrol on it and set it on fire,police said.

Soon,local leaders of Congress took up the issue and within hours,gave a call for Rajkot Bandh on Thursday.

Meanwhile crowds gathered at the civil hospital even as police struggled to keep them under control. Congress workers raised slogans against “Hitlershahi” (of state government) and clashed with police. However,the after additional forces reached the hospital,the mobs dispersed.

“The situation is under control. We have deployed four companies of State Reserve Police in sensitive areas of the city. We have sought additional forces from outside in view of the bandh call given by Congress,” Harjeshwar Singh,Rajkot city police commissioner told The Indian Express.

In her complaint,Girish’s wife Gauri stated residents of Chhotunagar had been torturing them mentally for last six months to vacate their house built on common plot of the society and,unable to bear this,the five attempted to end their lives.

The family originally hails from Nepal. Mansinh,Hasumati’s husband was hired by the society as a security guard some three decades ago and the family had been living at the place since but residents of the society were seeking their ouster,sources said. The members of society had approached RMC to remove “encroachment” by the Vishwakarmas.

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