Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the attack on anti-toll tax campaigner and veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare and his wife. The couple had been shot at by motorcycle-borne youths while they were out for a morning walk in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur this morning.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he was “deeply shocked” by the attack. “I have spoken to the district authorities. Police are on the lookout for those who are behind this crime,” he told media.
Police said the unknown assailants had fired four rounds at them from a close range. Mr Pansare, who has been admitted to a local hospital, is in a critical condition. Late on Monday evening, five persons were questioned in the case.
The 82-year-old lawyer had been a well-known anti-toll tax campaigner and is the third to be targeted in this manner.
In August 2013, anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar had been shot dead in Pune while he was out for morning walk. In 2010, RTI activist Satish Shetty was also killed while he was out on his morning stroll. He was allegedly stabbed by several people.
The Maharashtra government had announced a reward of Rs. 10 lakh for information on Dabholkar’s killers, but the case is yet to be solved.
Mr Pansare has fought for years against the state government’s decision to charge citizens for road development.
Former Union minister Sharad Pawar called the attack an attempt to “muzzle voices” that stand for their ideology.
“It is an attack on forces that speak against extreme forces. This was clear after the death of Narendra Dabholkar,” Mr Pawar said.