A farmer was killed and more than 30 persons were injured on Tuesday in clashes between the police and farmers’ groups opposing land acquisition for a power project in Gobindpura village in Punjab’s Mansa district.
The stir against land acquisition for Gobindpura Thermal Plant took a violent turn after members of 17 farmer labour unions tried to march to the village from neighbouring Barnala district.The farmers had earlier given a call to pull down barbed wires and reclaim land taken for the project. The farmers are up in arms against 166 acres being "forcibly" acquired by the administration for the project.
Earlier in the day, despite large-scale arrests and numerous checkpoints, about 1,500 farmers managed to gather at Kot Dunna village of Barnala district sharing border with Mansa, a southern district about 200 km from state capital Chandigarh.
Police stopped the farmers and surrounded them on the main Bhikhi-Dhanaula road around 4pm. Trouble erupted when the farmers tried to break the police cordon to reach Gobindpura.
Police baton-charged the farmers and fired tear-gas shells. The farmers tried to fight back, but were overpowered.
Surjeet Singh, 65, a farmer from Hameedi village of Barnala district was found dead in the fields after the clash, while more than 30 farmers were injured. Police claimed four of its personnel were also injured.
Farmers said Surjeet Singh died in police baton-charge. Senior superintendent of police, Barnala, Gurpreet Singh Toor, however, claimed he died of “exhaustion”. The body has been sent for post-mortem, the officer said.
The injured farmers were taken to local hospitals and gurdwaras. The police arrested hundreds of farmers.
In the view of the farmers’ protest, heavy police force was deployed in the village and all roads leading to Gobindpura were sealed. The village had been cordoned off to thwart the entry of members of the farmer labour unions.