Express India, August 6, 2008
Pune, August 05. Justifying the violent turn of events on July 25 at Dow Chemical complex in Shinde village, 60 km from the city, Banda Tatya Karadkar, leader of warkaris, said that he had been compelled to use force by the government.
“It is my experience that the government has never taken cognisance of peaceful movements. It is sad but they wake up only when the situation gets violent,” Karadkar said at a press conference in the city today. The leader of the Pune District Warkari Sanghatana said that his actions might be contrary to warkari tradition, but was harmonious with warkari teachings and philosophy.
“There is an abhang by Sant Tukaram we follow: To a good man, we will even give our loin clothes. But for a bad man, we will have our sticks ready,” he said. “The future course of action would be largely peaceful but due to government apathy towards the cause of the villagers, we will not hesitate to take recourse to alternate means,” Karadkar said. With a view to educating the warkaris and gaining mass based support, Karadkar said that nearly a lakh warkaris would assemble at Dehugaon on August 9. “The police have already denied us permission, but the meet will go on, no one will be able to stop us,” said Vilas Sonawane, leader of the Lok Shashan, which has been spearheading the villagers’ protest against Dow Chemicals at the village. The role of the police in the village has also been called into question by Lok Shashan. “As most of the men in the village are absconding, the police have been misbehaving with the womenfolk, in a state of inebriation,” said Sonawane.
After a group of 100 villagers, including warkaris set fire to the Dow Chemical complex on July 25, the police arrested 15 villagers. Consequently, Karadkar publicly took responsibility for the turn of events, but the police did not arrest him.
“The behaviour of the state is strange. The police have arrested innocent people, but they do not want to question a person who has publicly taken responsibility for the act,” Karadkar said.
Accusing the government of dereliction of duty, Karadkar said that in a Rs 400 crore development project of the region sanctioned by the government, Dehu, Alandi and Bhandara have been included, leaving out Bhamchandra hill, where Sant Tukaram is said to have composed abangs. “If they had included the hill, the Dow Project would have to be shifted,” he said.