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Demand for judicial probe into "brutal" police crackdown on farmers, womenfolk in Bhavnagar

By Our Representative
Prominent civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has strongly condemned the “brutal” lathicharge on farmers on January 2 in Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, and has sought judicial inquiry into the incident. The police lathicharge took place in Mahua and Talja tehsils of Bhavnagar district of Gujarat.
NAPM claims, Ultra-Tech Cement was given land for mining in Mahua and Talaja tehsils, in Uncha Kotada, Nicha Kotda, Talli, Kalsar, Dayal, Bambhor and Methla villages, about 20 years ago. However, no mining activities have been undertaken on the land, leading to farmers demanding their land back under the 2013 land acquisition Act.
This led the company to organize public hearing for mining. At the public hearing, local people protested. Despite farmers' opposition, the company “managed to get” environmental clearance. People challenged the company in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Pune. As the deadline for hearing the case allegedly expired, farmers took the matter to NGT, Delhi.
Meanwhile, the company started mining on the basis of the disputed environment clearance certificate. Mining began near Bhambhore village, where about 2000 people went on protest. Women and children also participated. Police promptly intervened to “rescue” of the company. People were surrounded and were brutally beaten up. Male cops attacked women who were protesting by singing songs.
Those seriously injured were sent to the Bhavnagar Civil Hospital. The remaining people are in jail in an injured condition. Ninety two people have not been granted bail, and they have been sent to Bhavnagar jail under section 307, including women.
NAPM has demanded that police “vandalism” be investigated by a sitting judge of the Gujarat High Court, FIR is filed against the police personnel involved, fictitious lawsuits filed against farmers are unconditionally withdrawn, and farmers' land is returned.

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