A staunch supporter of reservation for the Maratha community and Shiv Sangram party leader Vinayak Mete died when a vehicle hit his car on Mumbai-Pune Expressway on Sunday morning (August 14). He was 52.
Mete was a former member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council. He hailed from Beed district of Marathwada region.
The accident took place around 5.05 am near Madap tunnel under the jurisdiction of Rasayani police station in neighbouring Raigad district.
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Mete, another person and his driver were in the car while they were on their way to Mumbai from Pune.
In 2008, Mete and some other activists of his outfit had attacked the Thane-based residence of Kumar Ketkar, the then editor of a Marathi daily, to protest an editorial in the newspaper against the then state government’s decision to install a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Mahraj in the Arabian Sea.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said Mete focussed more on social issues than political ones. He was more of a social activist than a political leader who pursued the demand of reservation for Marathas in education and government jobs.
Congress leader and former chairman of a Maharashtra sub-committee on Maratha reservation Ashok Chavan said, “It is unfortunate to lose a leader like Mete. Despite we being in different political parties, Mete and I were almost on the same page over the issue of Maratha reservation in the state.”
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the untimely death of Vinayak Mete, who struggled for securing the Maratha reservation, is painful.
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“I have seen his dedication and insistence for securing quota for the Maratha community. His death has created a huge void,” he said.
मराठा समाज बांधवांना न्याय मिळवून देण्यासाठी सतत झगडणारे शिवसंग्रामचे अध्यक्ष विनायकराव मेटे यांचे अकाली अपघाती निधन मनाला वेदना देणारे आहे. ईश्वर त्यांच्या कुटुंबीयांस या दुःखातून सावरण्यास बळ देवो, अशा शोकभावना शिवसेना पक्षप्रमुख उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांनी व्यक्त केल्या आहेत.
— Office of Uddhav Thackeray (@OfficeofUT) August 14, 2022
‘Car driver lost control’
Meanwhile, police investigating the death of Mete prima facie concluded the driver of his car lost control of the vehicle which hit the truck from behind.
Mete’s SUV was in a second lane of the six-lane expressway at the time of the accident, an official said.
As per the preliminary investigation, the car driver, Eknath Kadam, lost his control at wheel and the vehicle hit a truck from behind in which Mete was seriously injured, he said.
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A doctor who checked on Mete at the MGM Hospital near Panvel told reporters earlier in the day that Mete had died before he was brought to the hospital.
“He was brought in at 6.20 am. He had no pulse or blood pressure, and his pupils were not moving. He died before being brought to the hospital. We even performed an ECG (electrocardiogram), but it showed a flat line (indicating no heart movement), the doctor said.
Kadam suffered minor injuries in the incident while Mete’s police bodyguard was seriously injured. The police official said that rescuers had to cut open a part of the SUV to pull out the policeman.
In his statement to police, Kadam claimed he did not receive any help for almost an hour after the accident and vehicles plying on the expressway didn’t stop.
The highway police, however, denied the claim of the driver. They said police reached the spot within seven minutes after receiving information about the accident.
“The state Highway Police stated in a report that they received a call about an accident at 5.58 am, following which police personnel from the Palaspe outpost rushed to the spot at 6.05 am,” the official said.
The claim of the driver is being verified and the investigation is on, he added. Mete, 52, a former member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, hailed from the Beed district in the Marathwada region. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
(With Agency inputs)