24 villagers, 8 cops injured in clash over 'shamlat' land in Patiala village
In what could spell trouble for the Punjab government during the ongoing assembly session, nearly two dozen villagers and at least eight policemen were injured in an exchange of fire and stone- pelting in Balberah village in Patiala district today.punjab Updated: Jun 19, 2012 23:07 IST
In what could spell trouble for the Punjab government during the ongoing assembly session, nearly two dozen villagers and at least eight policemen were injured in an exchange of fire and stone- pelting in Balberah village in Patiala district on Tuesday.
Police opend fire and resorted to baton charge on farmers when the latter pelted them with stones after the BDPO took possession of land in Charason and Balberah villages in pursuance of the high court orders. Farmers were opposing the execution of warrants for possession for 181 acres 'shamlat zameen' (government land). Nearly 43 families tilling this land had lost the case over its ownership.
While the police said the farmers resorted to violence and their reaction was only to control the irate mob of around 250 villagers, the farmers denied the charges. Farmers, meanwhile, damaged the riot control vehicle, water canon and injured some policemen. The police summoned more force to control the outburst of villagers.
The incident started when block panchayat and development officer Jaswant Kaur, along with rural development department staff, revenue officials and nearly 100 policemen visited the site to take possession of the land. The possession process passed off peacefully.
However, just as the officials were returning, a group of nearly 250 farmers, owing allegiance to Bharti Kisan Union (Dakaunda), started pelting them with stones at Charason village. Caught unawares, about eight policemen sustained injuries in the heavy stone pelting. Even the water canon vehicle of rapid action force was damaged, forcing police to tear gas the crowd. Subsequently, the policemen and villagers exchanged fire.
After getting additional force, the policemen retaliated and then thrashed the farmers mercilessly. Police allegedly also damaged dozens of motorcycles of the villagers. The police said the BKU men opened fire first and they only retaliated to control the situation.
SSP Gurpreet Singh Gill, who reached the spot to lead the operation, said: "It was a planned attack on police. We fired in the air only to control the situation and save government officials. No villager suffered bullet injuries and only two persons were injured due to tear gas shells. However, our policemen sustained injuries of .12 bore rifle."