A Gujarat Congress legislator, on his way to take ‘jal samadhi’ in Bhadar river in Rajkotdistrict, was today detained along with seven other MLAs ofhis party, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and others at Bhukhi village in the district, police said.
Congress legislator Lalit Vasoya, who represents Dhoraji assembly constituency, was proceeding to take ‘jal samadhi’ (suicide by drowning) in Bhadar river to protest against the textile dyeing units polluting it with untreated effluents.
Seven other Congress MLAs, including Pratap Dudhat who represents Savarkundla assembly segment, Patidar quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel and others had gathered in support of Mr Vasoya at Bhukhi village.
“Apart from Vasoya, seven other Congress MLAs, Hardik and around 12 others were detained. They had gathered in Bhukhi village in support of Vasoya, who was heading for ‘jalsamadhi’,” Jetpur Deputy Superintendent of Police J M Bharwad said. “They were released after Vasoya and others gave a written assurance that he will not take ‘jal samadhi’,” he added.
Earlier this week, the MLA had submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Governor OP Kohli threatening to take ‘jal samadhi’ today in case the government failed to act against untreated effluents from industrial units polluting Bhadar river and the reservoir. Lalit Vasoya had alleged that untreated toxic waste from textile dyeing units in Jetpur town was being released into Bhadar river which in turn was polluting the reservoir. The Bhadar-2 reservoir supplies drinking water to Dhoraji.
Neither the Rajkot collector nor the officials of Gujarat Pollution Control Board have taken cognisance of this issue despite repeated reminders, he had claimed. Following their detention, Mr Vasoya and Hardik Patel alleged that they were offered money by certain people not to take the protest. “The government belongs to the industrialists. Industrialists are polluting the river by releasing chemicals into it. Before coming here, I was made an offer of Rs 50 lakh by the middlemen of certain people,” he said.
“Two days ago, Lalitbhai (Vasoya) was offered Rs 1 crore,” Hardik told reporters. Making similar allegations, Mr Vasoya said there was a threat to his life if he continued to fight the issue. “I am being offered money not to take up the protest. I told them your money cannot be bigger than people’s lives. My life could be in danger if I continue the fight,” the legislator said. He said he would continue the protest against the pollution of the river and the dam. “If needed, I will even take ‘jal samadhi’,” he said.