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Protesting villagers caned in Thane

Mumbai, March 5 (IANS) Several thousand villagers ran amok in Thane’s Vasai area Friday as police attempted to break their four-day agitation demanding delinking of 53 villages from the Virar-Vasai Municipal Corporation.

The protesters stoned several state transport buses and torched one bus, forcing police to cane the angry villagers trooping in from nearby villages.

The agitation crowned the four-day hunger strike launched by Vasai legislator, Vivek Pandit, whose condition had become alarming by Friday morning.

The police and local administration have been appealing to him to call off his hunger strike, but he refused to until their main demand was conceded by the authorities.

The police also summoned reinforcements from neighbouring areas like Bhayander, Nalla Sopara and Virar, deployed the Anti-Rioting Squad and Rapid Action Force to control the agitators in the area. The situation is fully ‘under control’, police said.

The protesters, mainly belonging to the Shramjeevi Sanghatana, also enforced a shutdown in nearby villages and also blocked road traffic to protest what a party office-bearer termed ‘police high-handedness’ later in the day.

The leader of the agitation Pandit was forcibly shifted by the police in an ambulance to Thane Civil Hospital, around 40 km away.

Pandit’s aide Ramesh Kini said that the legislator and his wife Vidyulata were among the nearly 65 protesters who suffered cane injuries.

‘However, he has refused to call off his hunger strike till our demand is met,’ Kini, also injured, told IANS from his hospital bed.

The 53 affected villages have a total population of around 60,000.

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