8 manhandle engineer, ransack ward office
Nitasha Natu | TNN
Mumbai: Eight activists of an NGO, Swabhimaan, were arrested by the Andheri police on Tuesday, after they blackened a civic engineer’s face and trashed his office at the K-East ward. The activists were protesting against water theft and illegal connections in Gundavali, Andheri East. Swabhimaan is run by Congress revenue minister Narayan Rane’s son, Nitesh.
“Around 200-250 activists had gathered at the K-East ward office, looking for ward officer Ranjit Dhakane, but he was out. They then entered the office of assistant engineer (hydraulic department) Tarang Kumar and argued with him. The activists had brought black ink cans along. They manhandled Kumar and smeared ink on his face, before damaging phones and PCs. They also smashed table glass and shot the entire incident on video. We have booked them for rioting and assaulting a government servant,’’ a police official said.
According to the activists, they had met Dhakne and Kumar on Monday and showed them videos of water being sold illegally at Gundavali. “There are residents who haven’t had a water connection for over three years now. In the same area, the water mafia has obtained multiple connections and illegally sell water. The water mafia has occupied vacant houses and stored large drums of water. It is sold on per bucket basis and rates are fixed,’’ said Agnelo Fernandez, Mumbai head of the NGO.
Dhakane had promised to visit the area on Tuesday. But when he did not turn up, the activists landed at the K-East ward office. Policemen were present at the ward office, both on Monday and Tuesday.
Additional municipal commissioner Anil Diggikar told TOI, “We will meet the police commissioner to find out if protection can be provided to our hydraulic department staff.’’