People of the village drive out the protesting party workers
Angry over Anna Hazare's comment over the attack on Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on Thursday, party workers stormed the crusader's village on Friday and staged a protest.
Several party workers burnt Mr. Hazare's effigy and demanded his apology. This sparked fury among the people who attacked the protesters.
Reacting to this, 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 had said.
After signs of the protests taking a violent turn started surfacing, Mr. Hazare addressed a gram sabha and appealed to the people of the village 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 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 Anna Hazare to end the protests.” He demanded that Mr. Hazare's personal assistant Suresh Pathare be arrested as he had allegedly instigated the people to attack the NCP workers.
However, Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Krishna Prakash said that no case had 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 evening. The situation in Ralegan Siddhi was under control, he said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan criticised Mr. Hazare's statement on the attack on Sharad Pawar. “Although 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 to the bandh called by the NCP in Pune. Transport was unaffected while shops were shut for the first half of the day. Several schools remained closed because of fear of protests.
Some parts witnessed protests by NCP workers. However, Sharad Pawar's hometown Baramati observed a bandh throughout the day.