Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gujarat farmers' rally "attacked" after protesters demanded Narmada waters near industrial hub Sanand

By Our Representative
In a development which is likely to go a long way to politically hurt Gujarat BJP rulers' pro-Narmada image, the police on Tuesday allegedly attacked protesting farmers from 15 villages of Ahmedabad district, exploding teargas shells and beating up many of them up with batons for demanding Narmada waters for irrigating their fields.
The farmers were taking out a rally took near Sanand town, which attracted national attention following shifting of the Tata Nano plant from West Bengal with the direct financial support of the Narendra Modi government of Gujarat.
During the scuffle, several farmers, who belonged to Sanand, Bavla and Nalsarovar regions, were injured. At least 3,000 farmers were participating in the rally. The farmers had come in tractors, on motorbikes and other vehicles with huge banners demanding Narmada waters. Many of the vehicles were also damaged during the police attack.
While the state officialdom claimed that seven cops, including district superintendent of police, VR Asari, allegedly because of stone pelting, it admitted, the rally was taken out as the farmers were angry as the state government had refused grant permission for taking out the rally right up to Gandhinagar.
A state government spokesperson further claimed that the stone pelting began even as the cops were in talk with some of the farmers' leaders. This, he added, led to cops resorting to "mild lathicharge and firing some tear gas shells to control the situation." He added, however, "There are no reports of civilian injury." An farmer, however, said, it was the cops which resorted to stone pelting first.
The police said, they have detained more than a dozen farmers for stone pelting, and a first information report has been filed against those who were leading the rally with the Sanand Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) police station.
A senior non-political Gujarat farmers' leader, criticizing the Gujarat government for allowing cops for resorting to the baton charge, said, "It is difficult to understand why Narmada waters, which pass through Ahmedabad district, are not provided to the farmers of the region, but are being sent to far way Kutch and Jamnagar to help industry."
Khedut Samaj Gujarat secretary Sagar Rabari said, "The farmers' anger suggests that people are losing faith in democratic ways of protest. This is not for the first time that they were not allowed to take out a rally. The state government would do well to provide Narmada waters to the region, or face more such protests in the coming days."
Meanwhile, well-known pro-quota Patidar leader Hardik Patel has criticised the “police action” to use force against the farmers, saying this was done "the behest of BJP government in Gujarat, which is known for suppressing people who raise their voice.”
Patel said, the state was trying terrorising people. “Farmers were baton charged for raising their legitimate demand. Such atrocities prove that this government is anti-farmer", he insisted, warning, he would organize more such farmers' protest in coming days." The Congress also gave a statement condemning the police "attack".

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