Rahul Gandhi visits Pune farmers

Pune, Aug 18: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Thursday quietly arrived in Maval sub-district here in Maharashtra where three farmers were killed in police firing Aug 9, official sources said.

With the visit shrouded in secrecy, the city and district police as well as top Congress leaders in the state were unaware of Rahul’s sudden trip to the region which has been witnessing massive farmers’ agitations since the past few weeks.

Soon after his arrival at Pune airport, Rahul drove down to Maval, around 60 km from here and visited Yedsi, Shivne and Sadavli villages.

Though officials refused to comment, independent sources said that Rahul visited the family members of the three victims, including a woman, who were killed in police firing Aug 9. Police had opened fire on a huge mob of farmers blocking the Mumbai-Pune Highway and Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

Later Thursday afternoon, Rahul is scheduled to visit some of the injured victims who are undergoing treatment in local hospitals.

The villagers have been protesting against land acquisition for a proposed pipeline project to supply water from the Pavna Dam here to the industrial belt of Pune’s Pimpri-Chinchwad twin-township.

The issue had rocked the state legislature for nearly a week while an all-party Opposition delegation petitioned Governor K. Sankaranarayanan to dismiss the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government.

The Opposition had also roundly criticized the absence of any ruling party leaders in the affected villages and Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ had issued a mocking advertisement claiming Rahul was ‘missing’ from Maval.

A state Congress leader, preferring anonymity, said Rahul’s belated trip came Thursday as he was abroad tending to his ailing mother Sonia Gandhi, who recently underwent surgery in New York.

Last Sunday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had visited Maval and interacted with the farmers and local leaders.

IANS