About 50 farmers were on Sunday detained by police as thousands of cultivators protested the move of a Gujarat government company to take possession of land at a village in Bhavnagar district for a proposed lignite plant.
However, the local head of a farmers’ group alleged that the police manhandled the protesters, including women and children, and in the process, at least five people were injured
The Gujarat Power Corporation Limited had acquired 3,377 acres of land from nearly 1,250 farmers across 12 villages under Ghogha taluka in Bhavnagar about two decades ago, to set up its proposed lignite plant.
However, all these years the land remained in the possession of farmers who were cultivating it.
The farmers have now been opposing the company’s bid to take possession of the acquired land.
The company had sought police protection for its task to take the possession of the land when the clash erupted, Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police Dipankar Trivedi said.
“We detained around 50 people and fired about 50 teargas shells, and also baton-charged the protesters near Badi village,” he said.
Narendrasinh Gohil, a local farmer leader and member of Gujarat Khedut Samaj, a cultivators’ body, claimed that the farmers were carrying out a peaceful protest.
“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.
The police manhandled protesters, including women and children, and in the process at least five persons were injured, alleged Gohil.
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 judgments in the matter are settled by its constitutional bench”.
“No interim relief was granted to us in the matter,” he added.