Till a year ago, Vasant Rupanar (41) used to drive a luxury bus, earning just enough to support his family that included his wife, two school-going children and a younger brother. Today, he is paralysed and cannot move without their support.
And he still doesn’t why it happened to him.
Having taken leave for attending a marriage ceremony back home in Solapur, Vasant boarded a bus from Mumbai on June 1, 2014, the day communal clashes broke out in Pune after news spread that someone had uploaded derogatory pictures of Maratha King Shivaji and Shiv Sena supremo late Bal Thackeray on a Facebook (FB) profile.
“The plan was to reach home and attend the marriage function with my family. I was sitting on a window seat. When the bus reached Katraj area around 1.30 am, a stone hit my head. I lost consciousness. I later came to know I was rushed to a hospital by some people who were there in the bus. I was in coma for many days… I have suffered paralysis. I cannot move my legs, cannot walk without support. I cannot work. Life has become difficult… It is really painful to see that my family has to go through this trauma. I had nothing to do with communal riots,” Vasant tells The Indian Express at his house in their native Mahud village in Sangola taluka of Solapur district, where he lives with wife Sakhubai, children Rahul and Sushant, and brother Suresh. The family owns a small farm in the village.
“We did not get any support from the government. But our family members helped with money. Many people whom we did not even know came forward with financial aid for medical treatment after news reports. We spent about Rs 4 lakh for treatment,” says Sakhubai. Vasant’s brother Suresh, who is also a driver, now looks at farming too and supports Vasant’s family.
Following the pelting of stones at the bus, a case was registered at the Bharati Vidyapeeth police station. According to the police, two more persons travelling in the same bus had also received minor injuries in the incident. Later, a few activists of a little known group, Shivshashi Pratishthan, were arrested in the case.
While the communal clashes continued, a group of youths allegedly associated to the radical Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) attacked and killed a Muslim techie Mohsin Shaikh in Hadapsar on June 2.