Dozens of farmers injured as police break up protest in Punjab

They were objecting to ‘forcible’ land acquisition for power project

At least two dozen farmers were injured when the police resorted to a baton charge in the early hours of Thursday to break up their agitation against land acquisition in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office at Gobindpura of Punjab’s Mansa district.

The farmers, owing allegiance to 17 organisations, were protesting against what they called forcible acquisition of fertile land across Gobindpura, Sirsiwala, Jalbera and Bareta villages for a 1,320-MW thermal plant to be established by a private company. About 880 acres is needed for the project.

Though the agitation has been going on for almost four months, the 17 organisations launched a simultaneous sit-in in front of the offices of Deputy Commissioners in Mansa, Amritsar and Jalandhar districts on August 22.

The protesters, who set August 26 as the deadline for the State government to resolve the issue, toned down their rhetoric after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal invited them for talks on August 28.

No provocation

Witnesses said there was no provocation for the use of force, as most of the protesters were asleep when the policemen moved in. The bewildered farmers ran for cover. However, by afternoon, about 300 farmers regrouped in Bhaini Baghan village, marched to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and reclaimed the site before resuming the protest.

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