Pune: A family from Sanaswadi village which was caught in the Koregaon-Bhima violence on January 1, has decided to protest by living outside the District Collectorate until they get the rehabilitation promised by the government and which is also a provision of the SC/ ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
The Athawale family lived in Sanaswadi for the last 20 years.
“I came here from Nanded as a person who had nothing and worked as a labourer. Over two decades, with my hard work and efforts, I raised myself and started a shop and a workshop,” said Ashok Athawale, adding, “I never had any conflict with anyone in the village and had very cooperative relations with all villagers.”
“Like every year, I put up a stall on January 1 for visitors that come to the Koregaon-Bhima memorial. The villagers collectively decided not to help them with water and food but I did not pay heed to it. This angered the villagers. When news of a riot at Koregaon-Bhima reached the village, a local journalist spread rumours that I had a part in that conflict. In an hour a mob of 1,500 people descended on my house,” he added.
“I and my family escaped somehow and hid at a place and saw the same people who were our friends, pelt stones at our house, douse it with kerosene and burn it down. We were shocked. A person from the village who was our well-wisher told us that there was a plan to physically attack us, so I sent my family away and was trying to go to my brother when the villagers caught me and beat me up. They put petrol on me but at the last moment a phone call from someone made them change their mind.”
Athawale said after filing the complaint, he approached various authorities and politicians and was promised help. “The SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act too has provisions for a displaced family to be given a home and monetary help urgently. No charge-sheet has been filed even after 5 months. We have received only Rs 25,000 as compensation and are wandering for shelter in the city.
“We feel helpless as even the chief minister failed to fulfil his promise,” Athawale said.
District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the process for carrying out rehabilitation and compensation is going on.
“We have requested the Pune Municipal Corporation to undertake the rehabilitation of these families and the proposal is waiting for General Body’s approval. The overall compensation process is undergoing the procedure,” Ram said, adding, “The issue of compensation to be given to this family under the SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act though hasn’t reached me yet. It is a simple procedure and we will release it as soon as we get the details.”
“We have decided now to protest until I get justice. We will move to the District Collector’s office premises and live there till we get our own house. We want the procedure to be followed.
“The police should be investigated for lapses in the investigation and rehabilitation of the victims be done at the earliest.”