BANGALORE: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday defended the recent police firing on protesters who were opposing the thermal power plant at Kudgi in Bijapur district and assured enhanced compensation to those with bullet injuries.
Replying to a debate on the issue raised by Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar, BJP member Govind Karjol and Sarvodaya Party member K S Puttannaiah, the CM said the police had no alternative but to fire on protesters to prevent the situation from going out of control. The government has ordered a probe by a district magistrate and a higher probe would be held if necessary based on the report.
“As for the two protesters injured in police firing, a compensation of `1 lakh has been announced. They will be provided with the best medical treatment. If necessary, compensation will be raised,” he assured.
Earlier, Home Minister K J George, in his reply said the huge crowd which was protesting the setting up of NTPC’s 4,000 MW thermal plant, set several vehicles and construction equipment on fire. They also torched police vehicles and tried to burn down quarters of engineers from Japan and South Korea. Police had to open fire in self defence and to protect lives and property.
The BJP members staged a walkout shouting slogans against the government for breaking its promise of “not opening fire on farmers under any circumstances”.
Shettar said the local administration had failed to understand the anger of the local population as they were not given the promised jobs. People from other states have been brought in to work at the site and farmers are also worried about reports that 5 tmcft of water from Almatti dam would be diverted to plant, he said.
Shettar demanded a judicial probe by a retired or sitting High Court judge. Puttannaiah wanted the power project to be scrapped.
BJP Stages Walkout in Council
BJP members in the Council on Monday staged a walkout demanding a judicial probe into the police firing at Kudgi.
In response to a statement made by Home Minister K J George, Leader of Opposition K S Eshwarappa said: “Nothing will come out from a magisterial inquiry to be conducted by the Deputy Commissioner. The statement read by George had been prepared by the DC and the government cannot expect an impartial probe.”
He said only the judicial probe will bring out the truth.
The Home Minister said members of the Assembly had already agreed to the magisterial inquiry and the government had already said it would initiate further action based on the inquiry report to be submitted by Bijapur Deputy Commissioner within 45 days.
He said according to fresh information, the angry mob locked the SI and others inside a police outpost and tried to set it on fire. The SI opened fire in self-defence. This was established after examining the pellets by experts of forensic laboratory, he added.