Bhavnagar: Police detained around 50 farmers and even resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd as thousands of cultivators staged a protest in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar on Sunday, agitating against the move of a Gujarat government company to take possession of land at a village here. The company plans to acquire the land for a proposed lignite plant, PTI reported. The local head of a farmers’ group claimed that the police had manhandled farmers who had gathered for a peaceful protest. He added that at least ten people were injured as the state police roughed up the protesters, which included women and children.
As per PTI, almost 3,377 acres of land was acquired by the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited from nearly 1,250 farmers across 12 villages under Ghogha taluka in Bhavnagar nearly 20 years ago with an aim to set up a lignite plant. However, the land remained in possession of the farmers who were cultivating it for the last many years. As per the news agency report, this is the third time when the company had tried to take possession of the land but were met with the farmers’ resistance.
Speaking on this, Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police Dipankar Trivedi said, the company had sought police protection for its task to take the possession of the land when the clash erupted. “We detained around 50 people and fired about 50 teargas shells, and also baton-charged the protesters near Badi village,”
However, Narendrasinh Gohil, a local farmer leader and member of Gujarat Khedut Samaj, which is a cultivators’ body, alleged that the police disrupted the peaceful protests being carried out by the farmers. “As we carried out a peaceful protest march against the company’s move to take possession of our land, a large number of policemen were deployed to prevent us. The farmers and their families, including women and children, came out in thousands to protest this (taking over possession of land),” he said.
At least 10 out of the 50 protesters detained by the police were women, he claimed.
The protesters have demanded the company to initiate fresh proceedings to acquire the contentious land as per the Land Acquisition Act-2013. This was the third time the farmers resisted the company’s move to take possession of the land.
The farmers from the affected villages had earlier filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court against the move, saying the company will have to initiate a fresh procedure to acquire the land, as per section 24 (2) of the Land Acquisition Act-2013. The Act states that an agency will have to initiate a new procedure to acquire land if it did not take its possession for more than five years after acquiring it.
The farmers’ lawyer, Anand Yagnik, said, “The high court has completed the hearing but not passed the order, as the Supreme Court recently asked courts not to pass an order until inconsistent judgements in the matter are settled by its constitutional bench”.
“No interim relief was granted to us in the matter,” he added.