Mumbai: One person was killed and at least 10 others were injured here after police Thursday used batons to disperse some 5,000 protesters agitating against additional cuts in Mumbai`s water supply. Home Minister R.R. Patil ordered a probe while police denied responsibility for the man`s death.
The protesters, led by Congress leader Nitesh Rane under the banner of organisation Swabhimaan, had gathered outside the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) headquarters in south Mumbai, and raised slogans against the recent water cuts. The 15 percent additional cuts in water supply have hit the 14 million inhabitants of Mumbai, especially in the slums.
The decision for the additional water cuts was taken recently by the civic body -- ruled by the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-- in view of the nearly 30 percent deficit in the city`s annual rainfall this year.
As the slogan-shouting protesters carrying red flags, banners and placards, attempted to break the police barricades, police used batons to disperse them.
An injured protester, identified as Viral Dholakia (33), was taken to the nearby Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.
Ten other protesters were also injured in the police caning and have been admitted to local hospitals.
Additional Police Commissioner R.K. Padmanabhan told reporters that Dholakia sustained no injuries during the caning and as per initial examination by doctors, could have died due to cardiac arrest.
"However, the exact cause of his death will be available only after the autopsy report is received," he said.
Padmanabhan said police resorted to minimal use of force since the protesters had turned unruly and could have run out of control if allowed to enter the MCGM premises.
Police have detained 13 people, including Nitesh Rane, who is son of state minister Narayan Rane.
Similar violent protests for water also erupted in Nashik, the temple town around 250 km north-east of Mumbai, but the situation there is under control, according to police.