BELLARY: Police fired in the air and lathi-charged farmers protesting against land acquisition for the proposed airport project, on Sunday at Godehal crossing on NH-63.Police fired four rounds in the air and resorted to caning to disperse agitating farmers, including women and children at around 12 pm. Several farmers, women, children and policemen, including two sub inspectors were injured.
Some police and private vehicles stranded on the highway near the spot were also damaged in stone pelting.
As decided earlier, Siriwar and Chaganur farmers began their road blockade on NH-63 at around 10.30 am.
Till 12 noon no officers turned up to enquire about the protest.Tahsildar Bheema Naik, who visited the spot later, failed to convince the farmers. In the meantime, farmers got into a verbal clash with the police who tried to arrest some of their leaders, including Mallikarjun Reddy who led the protest. Somebody in the group allegedly slapped Rural DySp Sangeetha, which provoked the police to use force. The dispersed farmers replied with stones. The farmers chased the policemen and assaulted them.
Moka SI Aiyyanagowda Patil and Muttannaa H Kale of P D Halli police station sustained injuries and were rushed to the city hospital.
Ever since the government declared a new airport for Bellary, farmers of Siriwar and Chaganur have been protesting, since their fertile lands fall in the area identified by the government for acquisition.
With this incident, the farmers strike which started on January 5, opposing the proposed airport project in Sangankall region, has taken a new turn.
The lethargic district administration had turned a blind eye towards this major problem of land acquisition till recently, without considering the views of the farmers.
In December 2008, the Airport authority officials who had come to survey the land for the airport project were forced to return, due to farmers protest.
“The situation at Godehal cross in P D Halli limits is under control,” said Deputy Commissioner B Shivappa.
Speaking to Express after the farmers’ clash with police at Godehal, he said he is camping at the village, since it is a law and order problem.
SP Seemanth Kumar Singh has said that 11 persons, including one Mallikarjun Reddy were arrested. Two sub inspectors and one ASI were injured and are being treated at VIMS in Bellary.
“Since it was not a communal clash, no inquiry will be conducted. But based on photographic and video clippings, the reason for the clash would be investigated,” he informed.
Judicial inquiry sought
Gulbarga: The Karnataka Prantya Raita Sangha (KPRS) has criticised the firing in the air incident in Shirvar village in Bellary district on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters here on Sunday, KPRS state unit president Maruti Manpade said that the firing was unwarranted as farmers were protesting peacefully. Bellary SP Hemantkumar Singh is acting like an agent of the Reddy brothers, trying to safeguard their business interests, he said.
Manpade said that there was nothing wrong in staging an agitation. “Why does the government want to acquire irrigation land to construct an airport. Why can’t it be barren land,” he asked.