Activists urge Tamil Nadu CM to release farmers arrested for protesting | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Activists urge Tamil Nadu CM to release farmers arrested for protesting

By, Chennai
Nov 15, 2023 07:10 AM IST

Around 20 farmers, including many who opposed the proposed acquisition of agricultural wetlands for an industrial project by SIPCOT, were arrested on November 4

Around 14 activists, including social activist Aruna Roy, on Tuesday appealed to chief minister MK Stalin to immediately release farmers arrested in Tamil Nadu.

MK Stalin (PTI)
MK Stalin (PTI)

The development comes after around 20 farmers, including many who opposed the proposed acquisition of agricultural wetlands for an industrial project by SIPCOT (State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited is an arm of the government which promotes investments), in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvannamalai district were arrested earlier this month.

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According to the activists, the project would affect around 3,000 acres of agricultural wetlands across nine villages, where the farmers have cultivated for years and it would be leased to private industries. “We strongly condemn the high handedness of the Tamil Nadu government and its police to arrest and remand the farmers,” Aruna Roy of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan said in a statement. “We learn that they have been doing a peaceful sit-in protest in patta land for more than 100 days now, opposing the proposed acquisition by the government,” she added.

However, in the wee hours on November 4, at around 2 am, police had barged into the houses of farmers, arrested and remanded them to judicial custody based on a FIR filed in August 2023, the activists said, adding that sections under which they were booked have a maximum punishment of 5 years. This action is in contempt of several high court and Supreme Court orders, the activists said.

“The proposed acquisition will affect the livelihood of farmers greatly. They have been cultivating various crops such as paddy, sugarcane, groundnut and many other crops on these lands,” the statement released by the farmers read. “Instead of acknowledging the grave concerns of farmers and finding a democratic solution to the demands of farmers, the stand of the government to oppress the fundamental rights of farmers to peaceful assembly, free speech and expression is highly condemnable. The act of arrest and remand is illegal and unconstitutional.”

Meanwhile, Chennai-based organisation Arappor Iyakkam said that five of the arrested farmers have been shifted from Vellore jail to various other jails such as Palayamkottai, Cuddalore, Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai jails, which is a mere harassment and an attempt to make it difficult for their family members to meet them. “The arrest of the farmers seems to be done with the aim of stifling free speech of farmers and crushing the critical questioning of state action. The arrest is also meant to be a chilling example to scare other farmers in the future,” they said.

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    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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