Angry over Anna Hazare's comment over the attack on Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday, the party workers stormed the crusader's village on Friday and launched a protest. Several party workers burnt Mr. Hazare's effigy and demanded his apology. This sparked fury among the villagers who in turn launched an attack on the protesters.
Reacting to the attack on Mr. Pawar, Mr. Hazare had said on Thursday, “He (Sharad Pawar) got slapped? Only one slap?,”. He had clarified later and had said that violence was not the solution in a democracy. “This is not just a slap on Mr. Pawar's face, but it is a slap on democracy,” Mr. Hazare said.
After signs of the protests taking a violent turn, Mr. Hazare addressed a Gram Sabha and appealed to the villagers not to resort to violence. “We have a long way to go. There is no place for violence in a democracy,” he said. Criticising NCP workers Mr. Hazare said, “when farmers are killed in Maval, aren't these people angry? Why is the dissent shown only when a leader is attacked?”
NCP party workers were driven out of Ralegan Siddhi by the villagers, and several were detained by the Ahmednagar police, and released later in the day.
NCP leader and Ahmednagar Guardian Minister Babanrao Pachpute said, “The people of Ralegan got angry and attacked party workers. I request Mr. Anna Hazare to end the protests.” He also demanded that Mr. Hazare's PA Suresh Pathare be arrested as had allegedly instigated the villagers to attack the party workers.
However, Ahmednagar SP Krishna Prakash stated that no case has been registered. “Both the parties are unwilling to register any case. We have provided adequate police protection in Ralegan Siddhi since Friday morning,” Mr. Prakash told The Hindu over telephone on Friday. The situation in Ralegan Siddhi was under control, he stated.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan criticised Mr. Hazare's statement on the attack on Sharad Pawar. “Even though he has apologised, I feel that no one should speak below his own status,” Mr. Chavan said. He added that as persons in the public sphere, care should be taken.
There was a mixed response for the bandh called by the NCP in Pune.