Curfew has been imposed in the city following violent protests and stone throwing outside the Ratnagiri civil hospital during a bandh called by the Shiv Sena on Tuesday.

The death of Tabrez Sayekar of Nate in Monday's police firing during protests against the Jaitapur nuclear power project, and the post mortem examination were the focus of the villagers' protest on Tuesday.

Crowds from Nate gathered at the hospital from Monday night after Sayekar's body was brought there. Family members refused to allow post mortem and set conditions which included punishment for the policeman who opened fire on Sayekar.

Ironically, Sayekar is a fisherman who will not lose any land because of the project. However, fisherfolks have been expressing serious concern at the impact of the project on their profession.

Relatives' charge

Sayekar's relatives alleged that he was alive when he faced the first bullet and was later shot dead in a police jeep. The body was put into a gunny bag and taken to the hospital. But his wife and other relatives were not allowed to accompany the body, they charged.

Superintendent of Police Pradip Raskar, denying the allegations, said Sayekar was prominent in attacking and ransacking the Nate police station before he was hit by a bullet.

Had the police not resorted to firing at least 10-15 policemen would have died at Nate, the SP said, adding 54 policemen were injured in the village.

Thirty people, 16 of them policemen, were hospitalised after Monday's clashes. Sayekar's relatives submitted an application to civil surgeon Angad Chate demanding that at least five doctors conduct post mortem and that it be videographed. Dr. Chate appointed five doctors and post mortem was about to begin after 10 a.m. when the villagers raised an objection and said it was being done without the consent of the people and his family. Their primary condition was that the government punish the person guilty of ordering the firing, which killed Sayekar.

While everything was set for post mortem, policemen went to the room to cordon it off. But a large crowd present on the hospital premises started protesting. Some of them forcibly entered the room and roughed up the staff and injured a sweeper. The doctors fled fearing for their lives, Dr. Chate said.

Lathi charge

Outside the hospital, a 200-strong mob threw stones and the police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Tight security was provided near the hospital gates. Curfew was declared in the city thereafter and it would be in force till 9 a.m., Wednesday. There were some other incidents of stone throwing and buses being stopped and tyres deflated, apart from burning of tyres and wood on the streets, Mr. Raskar said.

Dr. Chate said Additional Chief Secretary (Home) was informed of the disruption of post mortem and a decision to conduct it with tight police security was taken. The procedure was completed by evening by five doctors and a Muslim woman doctor in deference to the wishes of the relatives, he said. Since this was a medico-legal case, there was no need for consent of the relatives, he added.

The post mortem report said Sayekar died of three bullet injuries to the heart, liver, kidney and lungs.

Now his relatives insist that the police take action against the person who fired first. Only then they will accept the body.

Meanwhile, the bandh called by the Sena to protest Monday's firing was peaceful except for a few incidents of stone throwing, burning of tyres, and the protests at the civil hospital. Public transport came to a standstill and all shops and offices remained closed. Police had to disperse mobs which set fire to tyres and disrupted the peace in some parts of Ratnagiri city.

Collector backs police

Collector Madhukar Gaikwad said there was no untoward incident in the city after the morning protests.

Defending Monday's police firing, he said it did not take place instantly.