Jaitapur project to continue

Mumbai: Ignoring protests, Maharashtra government on Tuesday stuck to its guns over the Jaitapur nuclear project, saying it will probe if the agitation was a "pre-planned conspiracy" and ordered a magisterial inquiry into the police firing at the project site that left one dead.

Home Minister R R Patil told the Legislative Assembly in a reply to an adjournment motion on yesterday`s firing incident?at the project site that the government was "open" to discussing the contentious issues surrounding the 9900 MW project and find a way out.

Terming as "unfortunate" the death of Tavrez Sejkar in the police firing, the minister said, "A magisterial enquiry into the incident of firing will be conducted as per the standing orders.

"An enquiry will also be conducted whether the violent protests at the plant site and the attack on Sakhrinate police station (on Monday) were politically motivated and part of a pre-planned conspiracy," Patil said while assuring compensation to the kith and kin of the deceased as well as those injured in the incident.

Vowing to ensure that the project sees the light of the day, Patil said, "This project is fully funded by the central government. The state government is committed to clear the doubts and misunderstandings of the locals and if necessary (will) provide enhanced compensation."

Apart from probing whether the firing could have been avoided, an enquiry into finding out whether there was any political conspiracy behind the protests will also be conducted, he said.

Patil, however, defended the handling of the situation by the police, saying that firing orders were given as a "last resort."

Narrating the sequence of events that led to the police firing on the protesters, Patil said intelligence inputs has indicated trouble in the area post the public rally held by Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray in Jaitapur on April?9.

He said that police resorted to lathicharge after the demonstrators attacked Deputy Superintendent of Police Sanjeev More posted at the project site and also pelted stones at three constables.

The mob attacked Sakhrinate police station on their way back from the site as the police posted there foiled their attempt to cause damage to the plant site. The mob then set afire the police station in which wireless sets and some records were also burned, the minister said.

The Home Minister told the lower house that the stone pelting did not stop even after police caned the demonstrators and fired tear gas shells.

"Initially, 48 plastic bullets were fired and later 25 rounds were fired in air out of which four hit the protesters. Three of the rounds hit them below the waist and only one (hit) in stomach of a protester," Patil said.

"There was no intention to kill," he said.