At least two people were killed and over 20 people were injured when police opened fire on a large crowd of fisher folk at Akasalakkavaram in Santhabommali mandal of Srikakulam district, bordering Orissa on Monday.
The condition of one of the injured is critical.
The fisher folk were protesting against the construction of a coal-based 2640 MW electric project by East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd near their village, which is part of the Naupada wetlands, a home to many migratory birds and an ecological fragile area.
Police said that they had no option but to fire when more than a thousand strong villagers attacked them with iron rods, sticks and stones. “We tried to control the mob by caning them first and then used teargas shells and rubber bullets. But the crowd was simply uncontrollable. They set fire to a police vehicle and were about to lynch us,” said a police officer on duty at the site.
The situation in the area remained tense and the district administration have requested for additional forces.
Meanwhile, S Krishna, Secretary of Human Rights Forum alleged that many dwellings belonging to protesting fisher folk in the village of Vaddithandra were torched. “Over the past three days, the entire area was physically cordoned off by the police and even humanitarian aid in the form of medicines for those injured( in the February 25 assault by the police), as well as essential commodities, were not allowed in,” he charged and held the State government and the East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd squarely responsible for the present situation. He demanded immediate withdrawal of police forces from the area and scrapping of the environmental clearance accorded to ther power project.
TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu, CPI state secretary K Narayana have condemned the police firing.