The Gujarat police arrested nearly 500 farmers after they staged a violent protest at Bhavnagar’s Surka village against land acquisition.(HT File Photo/For Representation)
The Gujarat police arrested nearly 500 farmers after they staged a violent protest at Bhavnagar’s Surka village against land acquisition.(HT File Photo/For Representation)

500 farmers arrested in Gujarat for violent protest against land acquisition

The farmers staged a violent protest at Bhavnagar’s Surka village against land acquisition by government-owned lignite mining company Gujarat Power Corporation Limited more than 20 years ago.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
UPDATED ON MAY 14, 2018 04:31 PM IST

The Gujarat police arrested nearly 500 farmers Sunday night after they staged a violent protest at Bhavnagar’s Surka village, around 176 km west of Ahmedabad against land acquisition by government-owned lignite mining company Gujarat Power Corporation Limited (GPCL) more than 20 years ago.

“The farmers had gathered at the site on Sunday and pelted stones on the policemen in response to which tear gas shells were lobbed. In the connection with the violent protest some 500 farmers have been arrested on Sunday night,” said Bhavnagar superintendent of police P L Mal.

“As many as 200 young boys were also detained along with adults. But the police later let them go and have not registered cases against them. Among the 500 booked, around 180 are women from 12 villages of Ghogha and Bhavnagar taluka,” said Pravinshin Gohil of Khadsaliya village and one of the leaders of the protesting group.

The clash between farmers and police was the third such incident since April. The protests which have gained wider traction began with GPCL beginning the work on around 1,414 hectare of land, which it had acquired and given compensation to the farmers between 1995 and 2005.

The farmers had earlier written to state officials demanding the return of their land.

“As per land acquisition rules, the company should have claimed the land and started the work within five years of acquisition. Now, they should either let the farmers continue to till their land or go through the acquisition process again,” said Gohil.

Gohil is among 5000 farmers who have sought permission for mass euthanasia if the government does not heed their demand. “Soon we will march toward Gandhinagar and then Delhi,” Gohil added.

The farmers have also moved the Gujarat High Court.

Since the first protest on April 1, there has been tension at the site as well as 12 surrounding villages.

“Four platoons of SRP, including a women’s platoon, have been deployed in and around site to avoid any untoward incident,” said Mal.

The GPCL plans to develop three lignite mines — Ghogha-Suraka, Khadsaliya-I and Khadsaliya-III — in the area to extract 3.5 million metric tonnes of lignite. Lignite mined from these sites will be supplied to Bhavnagar Energy Company Limited (BECL), another state government-owned enterprise that has set up a 500 MW thermal power plant at Padva village.

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