A 52-year-old man died of a heart attack after civic and police officials demolished his kiosk in Pimpri-Chinchwad, as part of efforts to spruce up the area for the visit of Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu. Naidu will visit Pimpri-Chinchwad on Thursday to attend the convocation ceremony of the D Y Patil Institute. Officials of police and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) have been evicting those who have set up shops and kiosks on the route to the institute. Ravi Tayade, 52, a resident of Phulenagar and the sole breadwinner of his family, died of a heart attack on Tuesday.
The family said they were given notice about the eviction on Monday evening and were given a deadline of 3 pm on Tuesday. “We told them we need some time to move out. Even before we could reach the spot, they had started the action,” said his son Manoj Tayade. Tayade, who sold old newspapers and books from his kiosk, urged the officials to stop the action and allow him to collect the material, said his family. “My father begged them… but they didn’t listen to him,” said Manoj.
As the kiosk was being pulled down, Ravi Tayade started feeling uneasy and was rushed to a nearby hospital. A team of doctors tried to save him, but he suffered a heart attack and died. “As they flattened the kiosk, my father complained of uneasiness. He was sweating profusely. We took him to the hospital, but the doctor could not save him. My father had no heart problems and he never complained of any chest pain,” said Manoj.
Jeetendra Nanaware, a former corporator, said the kiosks lining the route could have been asked to shut down for a day. “There was no need to snatch their livelihood, the way the police and the PCMC did. They could have been asked to keep the kiosks shut for a day to ensure safe passage for the Vice-President… I don’t understand how could the poor be a threat to the Vice-President’s life,” he said. Police said they had to be removed to ensure that no explosives are stored there.
PCMC Divisional Chief Asha Raut said the anti-encroachment action was taken against 17 kiosks and hutments lining the route. “We had received a letter from police, urging us to remove the tapris lining the route for security reasons,” she said. Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said, “As per my information, the man suffered the attack after the anti-encroachment action was over. It was an unfortunate incident…”.
He claimed action had been taken only against illegal vendors in the area. “We had given them sufficient time to remove their encroachments,” said Hardikar. Civic activists in Pimpri-Chinchwad, however, said the “double standards” of PCMC and police officials was “shocking”. “They continued to turn a blind eye to the stretches on the Pune-Mumbai Highway grabbed by mechanics,” they said.
“Parts of the highway have been grabbed by mechanics for over eight years… an array of cars are parked right on the highway, especially from Nashik Phata to Phugewadi, and they often lead to traffic chaos. There is no footpath on the stretch and pedestrians are forced to walk on the road, risking their lives, day in and day out,” said Jayant Kariya, a local activist.
Manav Kamble of Nagari Hakk Surakasha Samiti said, “It only reflects how the police and PCMC work in Pimpri-Chinchwad. The poor are easy targets… those who flout norms brazenly are allowed to get away.”
On why no action was taken against those who had grabbed parts of the highway, Hardikar said they have taken action in the past, and police should ensure that vehicles violating the rule are impounded. “No-parking boards have been put up. It is police who have to take action if they find vehicles illegally parked on the highway,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Ganesh Shinde said, “If the highway stretch has been taken over by encroachers, the PCMC has to initiate the process. We will provide them the necessary security to remove the encroachers.” Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla said appropriate action will be taken against those who violate rules if the PCMC pointed out the violations.