About 15 villagers from New Kopre, led by activists of Yuvak Kranti Dal (UKRAND), were detained by the Deccan Police on Monday morning for staging a protest outside the office of BJP Rajya Sabha MP and developer Sanjay Kakade on Shirole Road. The protesters, who are demanding rehabilitation of 15 families, claimed that they were displaced when land was acquired for National Defence Academy in 1967, alleged that Kakade is using his influence in the government machinery to curb their voices.
Kumar Saptarshi, founder of YUKRAND, said protesters were forcibly picked up by the police minutes after arriving at the site. Kakade told Newsline that the protesters’ demand was illegal, as the 15 families do not have any evidence to show that they were affected by the project. He added that he was ready to allot them houses if they are able to produce 7/12 extracts showing their ownership of the land affected by the project.
According to the protesters, of the 401 families who had lost the land to the National Defence Academy 1967, 54 are still to get the houses. The families were to get homes in Kakade City, a project by Kakade Constructions, which is owned by Sanjay Kakade, now a BJP MP.
As per Saptrashi, the 15 families that are now part of the protest were initially in the list of beneficiaries, which were to get the houses. “Kakade is using his influence in the government by using revenue department officials as well as police machinery. In private, he promised me to rehabilitate the 15 families, however, he has not made any formal announcement. Until that happens, we will continue to land at his doorstep every Monday,” said Saptarshi.
Kakade, meanwhile, denied having “promised anything” to Saptarshi, as “what he’s fighting for was unjust”.
“This issue first cropped in 2000. Saptarshi did not protest then. Now, that I’m a BJP MP they are trying to wriggle me to accept an unjust demand because they think I’ll be afraid that this issue may tarnish by public image. Why didn’t they protest for the last 17 years,” he said.
He added that he has repeatedly told Saptarshi that if a documentary evidence is provided, he will willingly hand over flats to the families. “The rehabilitation is done by the state government through the district collector. They should go and protest there. I was merely a conductor. I proceeded with the list of beneficiaries that the district collector’s office had provided me. These names were not there in the list, hence they didn’t get the houses,” he said.