NAGAPATTINAM: An activist was arrested and seven others were booked for opposing the GAIL work taking place near Tharangambadi. The villagers cried foul over the charges. R Iraniyan (47) of the Thamizhaga Nilam Neer Pathukaapu Iyakkam was arrested allegedly when he went to the Sembanar Kovil Police Station to collect receipts for a complaint he had lodged the previous day.
He was produced before a magistrate in Mayiladuthurai, who remanded him in judicial custody. The seven others booked – Vishnukumar, Balan, Selvaraj, Sivanantham, Ramasamy, Thennarasu and Mohandas – include two farmers who are yet to sign the agreement with GAIL. The eight have been charged for “unlawful assembly, rioting, and criminal intimidation”.
“Iraniyan is being targeted for leading our agitation. He is being framed on false charges,” said S Jawahar, a farmer from Kalahasthinathapuram. “The accusations are false. They are accusing us of trespassing, for which we stepped into our fields. The FIR is an attempt to suppress the remaining opposition from us,” said M Vishnukumar, from Sembanar Kovil.
The GAIL pipeline work is going on in villages near Tharangambadi amid severe opposition from farmers whose protests were thwarted by the massive police deployment in the villages of Maemathur, Kalahasthinathapuram, and Mudikondanallur near Tharangambadi. Even as talks were going on between police and farmers, GAIL allegedly kept sneaking its machinery into the fields, only to be confronted by the farmers.