Two warkaris were killed and 15 injured after a JCB earthmover mowed down a group of pilgrims at Dive ghat near Saswad, 25 km from Pune city.The deceased included Sopan Namdas (35), said to be the 17th descendant of the 14th century Saint Namdev (a significant figure in the Bhakti movement) and his disciple, Atul Alashi (23).The warkaris had set out from the temple town of Pandharpur carrying a palanquin bearing footprints of the poet-saint Namdev, and were heading towards the holy city of Alandi when the tragedy occurred. A pall of gloom descended among the pilgrims with the passing away of Sopan Namdas.According to police authorities, the driver of the JCB machine, which was heading to Pune from Saswad, lost control after the brakes of the machine allegedly failed, causing it to crash into the group of warkaris near Dive ghat.The driver was later arrested under section 304 (2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a police official said. “Despite the frequency of such accidents, police have not provided us with adequate protection. We request that the authorities take serious note of this during the wari (the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithoba in Pandharpur),” said a pilgrim.The injured were rushed to Noble multi speciality hospital in Hadapsar.“Two warkaris were brought dead while two others, one of whom suffered head injuries, have been admitted to the ICU and are critical. The others suffered minor injuries and will be discharged soon,” said Dr. H.K. Sale, Director, Noble Hospital.Offering his condolences, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State chief Chandrakant Patil, after a visit to the hospital, said the party would bear the expenses of those undergoing treatment from a special party relief fund. “The BJP has formed a special relief trust from which they will give ₹5 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased and bear the medical expenses of those under treatment. A persistent refrain from the warkari fraternity is that they ought to have adequate police protection. We will work on this immediately once a government is in place,” said Mr. Patil.District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, who also visited the hospital, said a proposal to provide financial aid for the deceased and injured is being forwarded to the State administration.