At least 60 people including 40 police personnel were injured after a farmers' protest against land acquisition for an industrial estate in southwest Haryana's Rewari district, barely 50 km from Gurgaon, turned violent on Sunday.
The protesters, mostly from the Gujjar and Jat communities, went on the rampage around 1.10pm, blocking Delhi-Jaipur National Highway-8 and torching three roadways buses, a truck and a fire tender. The police opened fire, injuring a protester, who was admitted to a hospital.
During the clashes, the protesters briefly held eight policemen captive before being forced to release them. Amid pitched battles with the police, a mob also torched the Kasaula police post nearby.The farmers blocked the highway for nearly eight hours, forcing authorities to divert traffic. Police contingents stood a safe distance away.
The farmers ended the highway blockade around 9.15pm after chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda appealed to them to maintain peace and said all problems "could be sorted out only through dialogue".
More than 2,000 farmers including around 100 women had gathered at Asalwas village in Bawal block of the district at 10am for a mahapanchayat against the state government's decision to acquire 3,300 acres in 21 villages for developing an industrial belt.
Farmers are demanding that the process to acquire the land be stalled till the enactment of a central law on land acquisition.
Leaders from the opposition Indian National Lok Dal and BJP participated in the mahapanchayat.
The Bawal belt already has an industrial estate. Protests have been brewing for a month against the Congress government's latest initiative. On July 15, 350 farmers were booked for ransacking a secretariat building in the district during a protest against the proposed land acquisition.
The violence in Rewari comes on the heels of a protest in Gorakhpur village of Fatehabad district by farmers against land acquisition for a proposed nuclear power plant.
With inputs from agencies