Maharashtra farmers protest land deal

The police fired five pellet rounds and lathi-charged the protesters, leaving 15 of them injured.

Mumbai: The Thane police had to resort to using pellet guns and carrying out lathi-charges after irate farmers from at least four villages went berserk on Thursday morning targeting police personnel and torching vehicles on the outskirts of Kalyan. The farmers were protesting against the Navy’s decision to build a wall around the periphery of an old British-era airstrip as part of a proposed development plan. At least 12 policemen, including three officers along with the ACP, were injured in the violence. that broke out at Bhal, Khoni, Nevale and Rawal Pada villages from 9.30 am to 11.30 am. The police fired five pellet rounds and lathi-charged the protesters, leaving 15 of them injured.

“Following the violence, extra reinforcements had to be called in, and the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and Riot Control Police were summoned. The villagers set ablaze a SRPF bus, a police van and three other vehicles. Each of the four villages had a mob of around 2,000 people and violence broke out at all the four spots simultaneously,” said Pratap Dighavkar, additional commissioner of police, Thane.

The police said that the villagers’ acts was premeditated and the moment they saw the policemen, they shouted ‘don’t leave them, attack them’ and started pelting stones. Citing peaceful protests by around 2,000 people, the police had kept a force of 60 personnel at the Nevale Naka. The police were, however, caught off-guard after the mob indulged in arson as similar reports came in from four neighbouring villages withinin a radius of 3km. Most of the staff of the police stations concerned were at the headquarters attending a conference and the mob took advantage of the same.

The villagers took control of some of the trucks that were moving on the main road outside these villages and parked them on roads in order to create a blockade to make it difficult for the reinforcements to reach the spot. The situation, however, was brought under control by around 11.30 am, after the police fired five pellet gun rounds. The villagers, meanwhile, alleged that the police was disallowing them from entering their fields. “This has been the case for the past three weeks now and the villagers are miffed as they are incurring losses. Construction work is going on despite the matter being sub judice, however, we are not allowed to work in our fields, which is gross injustice,” said Jay Bhoir, a resident of Nevale village. Some other villagers alleged that they tried to meet political representatives and place their case before them, however that proved futile and something like this was required to attract attention.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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