Complaint with police, enquiry demanded, NAPM condemns attack
In a shocking incident in Mugaon, one of the villages in the Lavasa Hill City Project, the house of a leading lady activist opposing the project was destroyed in a blast and fire yesterday night. The activist has lost all the domestic resources of her life and has expressed suspician that the Lavasa company is behind the blast and fire as it wanted to evacuate her. The very further part of development of the project is stuck at the location where the house and farm land of the activist is in Mugaon as she has refused to evacuate. The National Alliance of People’s Movement has condemned the incident and has called for a comprehensive enquiry into the incident and the culprits be brought to justice.
The Lavasa project is coming up in the Mose valley near Pune. Dasave is the first village where a lot of work of the project has been completed even as violating various laws. Mugaon is the next village. Leelabai Margale is a resident of this village. She has been a leading light of the movement against the project. Right from beginning she has refused to part with her land for the project. However, the company has been able to install a stone quarry on a piece of land belonging to Margale, against which she has secured a different plot of land, where she has built her dwelling unit. All the work of Lavasa is currently stuck at this location as Margale has refused to vacate the land. She has been at the forefront of the NAPM agitation against the project and hence has been facing pressure tactics from the Lavasa companay for quite some time now to vacate the land. However, she has refused to succumb to the pressure.
Margale was not at her home yesterday (january 3, 2011). As she was busy in preparations of marriage of one of her relatives, she returned to home only in evening accompanied by daughters Uma and Kajal. A widow, Leelabai and her daughter went to bed at around 8.30 pm. Soon after this all of them were awakened due to a huge sound over the rooftop of the house and soon witnessed a fireball from it. A shocked Leelabai immeidtaley took her daughters with her and came out of the house. In next hour or so, the house was destruyed in the fire. During this period another blast from the house was heard, which according to her might be of the cooking gas cylinder in her house.
The blast and the resultant fire destriyed all that was there in the house. Leelabai used to run a small grocery from the house. Three dogs died in the fire. She lost around 400 eggs meant for sale, grocery items worth Rs. 10,000. She also lost all her jewellery, documents related to her land, house etc, a license of firearm in the name of her late husband, domestic articles. All this is worth Rs. 2,00,000.00
Leelabai has filed a complaint with the Paud police station in which she has categorically expressed suspician that the Lavasa company is behind this blast and fire. She has stated that the police have already started to falsely claim that the blast is of the cokking gas cylinder at her home, which according to her is not a fact. She stated that she as well as her daughter were within 5 feets of the cylinder and had the blast been of the sylinder they would have had to face the brunt. “In view of the company’s attempts to grab my land, and my opposition to the same, I suspect that it is an attempt by the company to finish off me and my family,” Leelabai stated in her complaint.
The NAPM has condemned the attack. The NAPM, in a statement, said, “The Environment ministry and the High Court order’s have proved to be a set-back to the project. The company has tried various pressure tactics earlier also to grab land. It has attempted to create a rift among the locals. Has misused the police to pressurise the locals to fall in line. However, the incident yesterday is of a more dangerous in nature. We condemn it and ask the government to initiate a comprehensive probe and bring to justice those behind it. Else, the democracy is in danger.”
In an extremely shocking and painful incident that took place yesterday night, the house of Leelabai Margale, one of the most fiery and vocal village-activists, affected by the Lavasa Project on the outskirts of Pune was fully destroyed in suspicious circumstances. Leelabai herself suspects the company’s hand, since she has always been at the forefront of exposing the fradulent ways and pressure tactics of Lavasa..
Vested interests may have attempted to wreck Leelabai’s house and belongings, accumulated over a lifetime, but nothing, nothing can break her will to fight injustice….In this moment of pain and anger, let us all show unflinching solidarity with this courageous woman and support her in regaining her resilnce, to counter the illegalities of the Lavasa Company.
Please do write letters to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Pune District Collector, demanding an immediate inquiry into the incident and justice to Leelabai, with full government support to re-build her house, with dignity. In case you like to pass on personal messages or offer any other form of support to her and her family, please do contact Suniti at 09423571784.
On behalf of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, we all express our fullest support with Leelabai and are with her in this fight for justice.
Kamla Yadav Kailash Awasya Kishore Mangila Shrikanth
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